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Lathrop slowing speeders with 3-way stop
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LATHROP – The Lathrop City Council voted to bypass state regulation in favor of the safety of its residents, particularly young children.

The four council members voted unanimously recently to approve the installation of a three-way stop sign at the T-intersection of Jasper Street and Shadywood Avenue in the hope that this will help slow down speeders, a problem that has plagued residents in this otherwise quiet middle-class neighborhood for years.

“That’s a good start; it’s a great start,” commented parent Samantha Fernando who was one of the parents who attended the council meeting along with their children.

“My thing is the protection of these children. Who’s to say that none of our kids are not going to get hurt? I don’t want to see that happen,” she said as she described a daily scenario of children playing or walking to school while vehicles are literally “flying down the street.”

The intersection is roughly just a block-and-a-half away from Joseph Widmer Elementary School and is often used by children on foot as a short cut to get to the campus.

The Jasper-Shadywood intersection does not meet the criteria spelled out in the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) which regulates multi-way stop installations, so the recommendation from city staff was to maintain the old status quo, that is, leave it unchanged. However, staff explained that the council could order staff to install the three-way stop signs anyway regardless of what the state regulations warrant.

Perennial speeding problems at this intersection at Stonebridge Lyons Homes, and at Sugar Pine Drive and Pinecrest Streeet in Woodfield Estates, have been brought to the council’s attention several times in previous years. The parents who showed up on Monday lobbied for the stop signs at Jasper and Shadywood. The problem at Sugar Pine and Pinecrest remains to be resolved.

Resident Rosalinda Valencia said she has never been aware that there was a problem at Jasper Court. She does not live in that neighborhood, she said, but her children often visit their grandmother who happens to live at Jasper which caused her to be concerned.

“If I have to pay for a stop sign out of my own pocket, I’ll do it. I will even stand in the middle of the street with a stop sign. I will even stand in the corner and tell (the speeders) to slow down,” she told the council.

She added that, as far as she was concerned, the best way to solve this problem is to install speed bumps on the street.

Former council member Steve Dresser agreed that people will slow down when they encounter a speed bump. However, he pointed out that the root of the problem is speeding, so that even “with the speed bumps,” the speeding problem would still be there.

Former mayor Bennie Gatto said, “I fully agree with stop signs.” However, as chairman of the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District, he explained that speed bumps are not the answer to the problem in residential areas.

“If you have a $500,000 engine and a $90,000 life-saving equipment, you don’t want a speed bump, not on residential areas when you go for emergencies,” Gatto said.