A proposal to remake downtown Modesto's J Street into a pedestrian-friendly destination street by reducing the number of traffic lanes, adding angled parking and four-way stops at all intersections has failed to gain traction.
The City Council's Economic Development Committee on Wednesday supported an alternative proposal that calls for repaving the street and adding pedestrian bulb outs, which extend the curbs at intersections, but otherwise keeping the street as it is.
Mayor Ted Brandvold and Councilmen Bill Zoslocki and Tony Madrigal serve on the committee and the three voted for this option after a more than 2 1/2-hour presentation and discussion before a packed room of several dozen audience members.
Modesto has more than $1.5 million for repaving and other work on J Street. The question for city leaders is after the street is repaved, should it be restriped in its current configuration or in a new one that turns it into a two-lane street with angled parking?
The committee vote was not the final decision, and it was a compromise.
Zoslocki supported turning J into a destination street, and Brandvold liked the concept but said the city has not done all of its due diligence.
He said that includes determining how discouraging cars on J will impact traffic on surrounding streets. J gets about 18,000 vehicle trips a day at McHenry Avenue, about 12,000 at 12th and 13th streets, and about 15,000 at Ninth Street, according to the city.
Brandvold also said that while Modesto has money to repave and restripe the street to reduce the number of traffic lanes and add angled parking, it does not have the money to plant the trees and other landscaping that is part of making J into a destination street. But city officials said Modesto has applied for a grant for that work and private funds could be raised.
The committee's decision is a recommendation to the seven-member council, which will make the final decision. City spokesman Thomas Reeves said the council likely will consider this matter in June or early July.
The council will need to make a decision soon. Modesto has to complete the design work for the street by June 2019 or it will lose the $1.5 million in federal funding. The design work takes six to eight months, according to the city.
Besides the two options for J Street, the council could decide to use the federal money to repave other streets.
The Downtown Modesto Partnership is advocating turning J into a destination street, similar to what Turlock and Livermore have done with their downtowns. Several DOMO board members spoke in support of this at Wednesday's meeting.
Supporters said this project could be a boon for downtown, but some J Street business people are skeptical and concerned about how construction would harm their businesses by making it difficult for customers to reach them. They also raised concerns about how police and fire vehicles would access the street and how trucks would make deliveries.