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Will sign make 120 Bypass less safe?
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There are no billboards currently along arguably the deadliest two-mile stretch of freeway in all of the Northern San Joaquin Valley — the last two eastbound miles of the 120 Bypass.
That may change soon now that Poag & McEwen is awaiting blessing from Caltrans for a state-of-the-art electronic billboard covering almost 700 square feet in front of the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley after it was approved by the Manteca City Council.
City staff in March assured the council that the sign as submitted by Poag & McEwen met Caltrans standards so as not to impair driving safety. The council approval allowed the sign to advance to Caltrans for either a thumb up or thumb down.
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead  — who was the only elected official on record opposing the sign with Mayor Steve DeBrum and council members Mike Morowit and Richard Silverman supporting the sign and Vince Hernandez absent — is hoping Caltrans sees the light.
In a five-year period ending Oct. 31, 2015, Manteca Fire Department responded to 407 injury accidents on the 120 Bypass. That doesn’t count fender benders — or more precisely in the case of 120 Bypass rear-enders — front end and rear end crushers — that easily cause $10,000 or more in losses each time but thanks to relatively slow speeds and safety technology drivers and passengers are unscathed.
Moorhead, who typically casts a vote and moves on not disputing the collective decision of the council, feels compelled to continue to speak out about the sign.
She noted it is one of the top concerns in Manteca right behind the homeless and public safety.
Moorhead related how one woman came up to her lately and demanded to know “what the city is going to do about the Bypass” after her daughter heading to Modesto Junior College got nailed in rear-end collision.
“We don’t need another distraction for drivers even if it so for a second,” Moorhead said.
Ironically, Orchard Valley is right where the afternoon commute traffic goes into its dangerous “Slinky” mode as traffic backs up trying to access Highway 99.
The request for the advertising sign comes up as Caltrans is trying to fast-track $578,000 worth of safety improvements starting  three miles before the 120 Bypass interchange with Highway 99 aimed at getting  motorists to  pay more attention to where they’re going.
It includes the installation of an automated warning system that will include an interchangeable message sign, four traffic monitoring installations and camera on eastbound 120 to give real time information to drivers about back-ups. Construction is expected to start in October.
Additional safety upgrades aimed at getting  drivers to pay attention will be made within the next three years. The ultimate goal by 2021 is to start work on improving traffic flow at the interchange.

Harley tickets’
will help veterans
with building
Manteca veterans need your help.
American Legion McFall-Grisham Post 249 must make mandated American with Disabilities Act improvements and other renovations to their post home at 220 East Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca.
To help raise funds there are selling 350 tickets for $100 each for a chance to win a 2016 Harley-Davidson Dyna Lowrider that is now on display at the Eagles’ Nest Harley-Davidson store in Lathrop that fronts Interstate 5.
The drawing is set for July 16 at 5 p.m. at the Manteca Senior Center, 2956 Cherry Lane. You do not need to be present to win.
One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the ADA updates and building renovation.
Tickets are $ available by calling Art Smith, 239.1340; George Terry, 823-5665; or Jack White, 838-7879. Tickets are also available at the hall on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email