STOCKTON — The city’s effort to beautify historic Weber Avenue in downtown Stockton has inadvertently created an ugly traffic safety problem, merchants say.
The $3.1 million improvement project, approved by the City Council in 2013, included building medians with elevated planters containing bushes and shrubs.
The problem is the planters are so tall that it is hard to see low-profile cars behind them. As a result, drivers who attempt to turn left onto Weber Avenue or drive all the way across it may be plowed into by oncoming cars, which cannot be seen until it is too late.
Police say they have investigated four accidents in the past year at the intersection of Weber and Grant Street, though shopkeepers say they’ve witnessed a dozen or more, most of which were not reported to police.
“You can’t see. You simply cannot see,” said Renee Ford, owner of Buzzy’s Smoke Shop. “We’re lucky we haven’t had a fatality.”
There is no doubt Weber Avenue looks nicer than it did in the old days, when it was four lanes of asphalt with nary a green living thing in sight. In addition to the medians, officials removed two of the lanes to make room for diagonal parking, and installed new street lights, benches and safety posts on the corners.
The project, funded mostly by the federal government, was intended to create a more pedestrian-friendly area that reduces the need for pollution-belching automobiles. Most recently, crews improved a three-block stretch from Stanislaus Street to the railroad tracks; the area from Stanislaus Street west to the waterfront was improved in 2003.
The work lends a more…
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