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$5.4M targets better traffic flow, improved street safety

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POSTED August 10, 2017 1:26 a.m.

The streets of Manteca could be significantly easier to navigate — and safer — within two years.
The Manteca City Council Tuesday is being asked to award two contacts to TJKM Transportation Consultants to handle design and environmental work for traffic design upgrades as well as the retroreflective traffic sign project.
When the two projects being funded with $5.4 million in federal grants augmented with $402,000 from local sources Manteca will have:
uAn updated traffic signal control system that typically is found in communities of 200,000 or more residents.
uStreet signs throughout the city that meet the pending Federal Highway Administrative mandate that they have a higher night visibility.
The staff’s decision to seek out grants and applying for them means the mandate will be met with a minimum hit on Manteca’s pocket. It also secured money for a project that would not only coordinate signals better for enchanced traffic flow but allow it to be done as needed that likely would not have been funded.
The contract for the traffic signal design and environmental work as required by federal law is $477,699.90. The retroreflective sign design work will cost $389,183.
Manteca will incur a $2.7 million tab  replacing all traffic signs — stop signs, speed signs, warning signs, street signs, and such — with ones that have a significantly higher retro-reflectively
The mandate by the Federal Highway Administration is based on the fact half of traffic fatalities occur at night even though only a quarter of all travel takes place at night. And while intoxication and fatigue contribute to the high rate of nighttime crashes, the federal government contends nighttime driving is inherently hazardous because of decreased driver visibility.
The newer sign material improves highway safety and prevents roadway departure crashes by bouncing light from vehicle headlights back toward the vehicle and the driver’s eye, making the signs appear brighter and easier to see and read. At the same time, older signs lose their reflectivity over time.
It will cost $3.2 million to assess and improve all traffic signals within Manteca’s city limits.
Manteca has roughly 50 intersections with traffic signals in addition to 10 sets of Caltrans controlled intersections on freeway off-ramps as well as two more sets on East Highway 120.
All of the city signals have older controllers that operate independently to direct both traffic and pedestrians. Public Works Director Mark Houghton has noted the possibility exists to tie in the city’s systems with those operated by Caltrans to further enhance traffic flow.
New controllers will not only allow the city to sync traffic signals but they will create greater flexibility by being able to program them at a central location to take into account increases in traffic flow.
That means the city will be able to reduce congestion on corridors such as Main Street through downtown, East Yosemite Avenue between Button Avenue and Spreckels Avenue, and elsewhere in Manteca.
The technology is prevalent in cities of 200,000 or more residents but fairly rare for a city the size of Manteca.
Besides making traffic flow more efficient it will also reduce air pollution as idling cars pollute more than those that are moving.
City officials are hopeful that improved traffic flow will improve safety of both motorists and pedestrians by reducing frustration.
Associate engineer Matiel Holloway was responsible for the grant writing that allowed the city to secure the funds.
“Every dollar we get (from the federal government) is a dollar we don’t have to spend locally,” Houghton said last year.
The City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

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