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Medians for Mitchell too pricey, unsafe
Mitchell Road is simply not wide enough for an attractive landscaped median. So members of the Ceres City Council are hoping to develop another way to spruce up the entrance into Ceres from Modesto.

During a Feb. 27 Study Session, councilmembers learned of the problems of a 2007 conceptual plan to add a center landscaped median.

City Engineer Toby Wells said that 12 feet is the smallest width of a typical lane of traffic but a landscaped median would mean lanes would have to be narrowed to 10 1/2 feet "and with trucks becomes problematic" said Mayor Chris Vierra. "It's also too dangerous for workers who would have to work on the landscaping when traffic is zipping by at 50 miles an hour," he added.

Currently the city has a smaller marque entrance sign with an interchangeable message board. The mayor said the sign sits amid a weed-filled area that is not attractive.

Vierra said he wants the city to come up with a "side of the road treatment."

"The consensus is we'd like to do something more grand there and maybe street lights to line both sides of the street to create a sense of place."

The city's 2007 plan - which breaks the Mitchell Road enhancement project into three segments - was determined far too expensive by the council, noted Vierra. Treating the area between the Tuolumne River bridge to River Road would cost an estimated $1.1 million with the section between River Road to Nicholas Way costing $700,000. The final phase from Nicholas Way to Hatch Road would cost an additional $500,000, bringing the total to $2.3 million.

Although the city is collecting the funds to cover the cost through Public Facility Fees, Vierra said he couldn't justify the expense.

"That would be a tough sell to the public in this economy," said Vierra.

"As much as we'd really like to landsape it and have it look good .... the only way would have been a skinnier median and put in another signal and the cost of these improvements was quite high."