Citing growing community frustration with speeding, red light running, and disregard for pedestrians, Mayor Ben Cantu got his council colleagues to call for a discussion on what steps Manteca can take to address traffic safety issues that he said are turning into an “epidemic”.
“It looks like a lot of people are getting totally bold or just don’t care,” Cantu said.
Cantu made his comments at Tuesday’s council meeting following last week’s carnage where three people died in separate traffic mishaps over a five day period. That brings the traffic death toll so far this year to seven — the highest body count for at least 30 years on Manteca streets – with four months to go.
Initially Cantu pushed for an action item on the Sept. 17 agenda for the council to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to his proposal to add three additional police officers as soon as possible instead of waiting for the mid-year budget review in January for the purpose of beefing up traffic enforcement with his stated goal of ultimately having a seven-man unit. That effort did not get any traction.
Other council members — while not saying whether they supported Cantu’s proposal as he outlined it — got the mayor to agree to have a broad discussion of traffic safety and enforcement issues with staff providing data on collisions, moving violation tickets issued and other information. After that discussion on Sept. 17, the council could instruct the staff to study specific options and return to a subsequent meeting with costs as well as any concerns or issues associated with them.
Adding three traffic officers — assuming they are hired at the lowest level — would immediately create an ongoing cost of at least $450,000 annually for salary and benefits. That is in addition to equipment such as motorcycles and/or additional patrol cars, radar guns, and other needs.
Cantu said he favors using “unattached funds” to cover those costs.
Manteca had a five-man traffic unit prior to 2010 when city revenue shortfalls triggered by the Great Recession forced the elimination of two of those issues.
An overall look at traffic law enforcement and driving issues at the next meeting follows several council updates and decisions that also dealt with traffic during Tuesday’s meeting.
One was the approval of speed lumps — basically four smaller speed humps spaced to allow buses and emergency vehicles to straddle them by going down the middle of the road or toward the side of the road —for Hacienda Avenue between Orchard Way and La Mesa Way. Other vehicles need to slow down to 15 mph to cross them or sustain severe jarring.
More and more people are using the residential street as a short cut between Yosemite Avenue and Louise Avenue with a good number of those drivers exceeding the speed limit. The half mile long Hacienda Avenue turns into Walnut Avenue after it crosses Alameda Street and continues on to Yosemite Avenue.
The project could cost $20,000. If public works crews are able to do the work, the price would be over 50 percent less expensive.
The speed lumps — the first ever in Manteca — is the result of a process Hacienda Avenue residents started using the Manteca Traffic Calming Program adopted last November. The neighborhood is the first to complete the process to find the best solutions to fit their street in terms of slowing traffic.
School zone with 25 mph
speed limit possible on
Moffat near Manteca High
Cantu’s request for stepped up traffic enforcement came on the heels of Councilman Gary Singh’s follow up on his inquiry last month for city staff to look at ways of slowing down traffic on Moffat Boulevard — particularly near Manteca High.
Public Works Director Mark Houghton indicated staff is exploring implementing a school zone in that area that would drop the speed from 40 mph to 25 mph when children are present before and after school.
It would allow Manteca Police to make step up enforcement using radar even though the speed profile may show Moffat with speeds averaging 40 mph or faster. State law sets speeds on streets where radar can be used at the 85 percentile of surveyed speed. One exception for that are school zones when children are present.
Police detour semi-
trucks into Del Webb
Del Webb at Woodbridge resident Bill Barnhart suggested that when police have to close roads for whatever reason that they make an effort not to detour semi-truck traffic down residential neighborhoods.
When Airport Way was closed due to a pedestrian fatality Friday morning that triggered a major traffic investigation, the road was closed from Daisywood to Roth. Daisywood is the western entrance to the Del Webb community.
That sent semi-trucks into the 1,420-home age-restricted neighborhood that not only has narrower streets than typical subdivisions but has intersections not designed for trucks to make turns.
Barnhart noted detouring trucks at Lathrop Road would have made more sense.
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