The drive from Highway 99 into town on W. Main Street may soon be safer and less bumpy, however, some of Turlock's oldest Sycamore trees may not survive the renovation project.
Residents of W. Main Street and community members were asked to weigh-in on preliminary ideas for the rehabilitation of the city's oldest thoroughfare during a public meeting held Wednesday at City Hall.
Although beautification is one factor the City is considering during planning stages of the roadway project, Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth said the priority is safety for the many motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists who travel W. Main Street every day.
"We have increased ridership on West Main and some sections of the road are 14 (on the Pavement Condition Index scale) and the best area is 56," Soiseth said. He explained during the public meeting that the PCI scale ranges from 0 to 100 and 14 wasn't a score anyone would want to take home to mom.
"We are having issues on West Main."
Some parts of W. Main Street are better than others. The section from the freeway to West Avenue South is four lanes and in fair condition. The City is considering doing a pavement overlay, similar to what they did on Monte Vista Avenue, and then redoing the median along that segment of roadway to close many of the turn areas.
The intersection of W. Main Street and West Avenue South is where the real problems begin. The intersection itself has been the site of numerous accidents including a 2014 incident where a driver hit a woman pushing a stroller with three children while they were crossing W. Main in the crosswalk area.
Development Services Director and City Engineer Mike Pitcock said the City received a grant to install a traffic light at that intersection, but the project isn't slated until 2017.
The West Avenue South intersection is also where W. Main Street narrows from four lanes to two — and where the road conditions go from bad to worse.
Associate Engineer Nathan Bray presented two possible options on renovating that portion of W. Main, but no matter what the final details of the project he said the entire roadway will have to be removed and brand new pavement installed.
The first idea Bray presented was eliminating the landscaped strip on the south side of the street, which would include three old Sycamores and other trees, and shifting the road to create more room for the trees in the landscaped area on the north side of W. Main.
The second idea was to eliminate parking on one side of the street — it didn't matter which side, said Bray — and increasing the landscaped areas on both sides of W. Main from 3 feet to 8 feet.
The City's reconstruction ideas were met with mixed opinions.
"West Main is a beautiful street, a historic street. I see keeping it as is and just repairing it," said Milt Trieweiler, a resident of W. Main since 1973. "It's a unique street in Turlock. We don't have any like it."
Others were anxious to see improvements made to the street and said they would consider making it a permitted parking only area.
Many of those in attendance at Wednesday's meeting had an opinion on how the project would affect the Sycamore trees that line W. Main Street — some voicing support for saving all the trees and some wanting to see the large trees, and their invasive roots that are the cause of the broken sidewalks along Main and a few busted sewer pipes, be removed.
Pitcock said as individual property owners are responsible for the maintenance of street trees, the City has not had an arborist evaluate the health of the old trees, but that it would be done in conjunction to the renovation project.
Wednesday's meeting was just the first step in the rehabilitation project that Pitcock said would take years to complete as the City is expecting to request state and federal grants to help pay for the construction and it would come in multiple funding cycles.
In conjunction with the expected roadway project, Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing Maryn Pitt said that the City is offering $10,000 HUD grants to owner-occupied residents of W. Main Street to make needed renovations on their homes.
Residents of W. Main Street — or other areas of town — interested in HUD funded grants or loans, can contact Housing Program Services at 668-5610 or visit cityofturlock.org.