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Atherton & Airport Way stop signs proposed
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A traffic study justifies the placement of a four-way stop at Atherton Drive and Airport Way.

The recommendation also includes the placement of high visibility crosswalks to enhance the safety of pedestrians as well as bicyclists to cross Airport Way to travel between two sections of a separated bike path.

The improvement will cost $150,000. It covers the all-way stop signs that will be ringed with solar-powered red flashing LED lights similar to what was recently installed at Woodward Avenue and Pillsbury Road. It also includes slurry sealing the intersection, advance signage, all new striping and markings as well as the construction administration costs.

If the Manteca City Council opts to proceed with the project when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 West Center St., staff recommends tapping carryover reserve of growth fees collected for road improvements. 

The report also calls for spending more than $500,000 in the future on a traffic signal for the intersection when traffic volume warrants it.

The council had pushed for traffic signals — or at least stop signs — before the $4.9 million missing gap on Atherton Drive between Union Road and Sparrowhawk Street was completed and opened earlier this year. They were concerned that even before development occurred between Airport Way and Union Road motorists would discover Atherton Drive as a quicker way to get across Manteca and create issues at the intersection. At the same time pass thru commuters that have been using g Woodward Avenue to avoid the accident prone last mile of the eastbound 120 Bypass to reach Highway 99 would likely shift to Atherton Drive once they discovered it was faster.

They were advised by City Attorney John Brinton doing so without a traffic study that verified conditions — traffic volume, accident count, safety-related issues, and speed — warrant stop signs or other modifications, it would increase the city’s financial exposure significantly to being sued in the aftermath of an accident.

Courts have consistently given jurisdictions immunity when they are sued based on the argument there was a design flaw that contributed to an accident if a study was done and justified conditions warranted the improvement made such as installing stop signs.

Given Manteca is experiencing almost 1,000 accidents on city streets in an average year, protecting municipal funds from lawsuits is arguably just as important as making the streets safer.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email