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Drivers will travel 35 mph on new Atherton stretch?
The new section of Atherton Drive is posted for 35 mph.

The long-awaited Atherton Drive gap between Union Road and Airport Way opened finally on Thursday morning.

If you observe the speed limit signs — and there are probably still a few in Manteca that take the antiquated and quaint approach that posted speeds are the law and not a suggestion — you will notice a peculiar situation. The only stretch on all of Atherton Drive now in place that is 35 miles per hour is between Union Road and a point just east of Sparrowhawk Drive. Everywhere else it is 45 mph although that isn’t absolutely clear heading from Woodward Avenue north and then west toward Van Ryn Avenue given there is no speed sign at all.

The reason for the 35 mph zone is a housing subdivision is moving forward on the south side of the newly opened stretch that includes a large park that will open up to Atherton apparently without a sound wall along the street. 

The reason why “apparently” is an appropriate word to use is just down the street Veritas School borders Atherton Drive but given there is a sound wall the speed is 45 mph. The city tries to put in place lower speeds, traffic claiming devices or safety measures in new development where there are parks and schools are along city streets.

Whether anyone will travel 35 mph on the new stretch is highly doubtful. Traveling Atherton Drive on Thursday at 45 mph between Van Ryn Avenue and Union Road more than a few vehicles were passing you by going perhaps 50 mph.

Given that Manteca Police can’t use radar on the new section of Atherton Drive as a radar survey hasn’t been conducted to set up the speed that would hold up in court when tickets are written, the only way police can enforce the 35 mph speed limits is by pacing vehicles for a prescribed distance.

That said when a speed survey is done on the new stretch — especially when it takes hold as the preferred bypass to the 120 Bypass — the odds are the 85th percentile speed will be closer to 50 mph instead of 35 mph whether there is a park with or without a sound wall on the stretch.

Still rules are rules, right? 

Rest assured drivers won’t see it that way setting the stage for the posted speed limit to be blown substantially day in and day out given it is a nice long stretch between Airport Way and Union Road.

Residents prepare to flee during 

power cuts; Howze blasts PG&E, 

supports SSJID effort

to take over local system

Ted Howze — who is running for the 10th Congressional District seat — is the first regional leader outside of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District to go on record supporting the SSJID’s effort to acquire the PG&E retail electrical system in Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon.

That comes as longtime Manteca residents such as former mayor Jack Snyder — whose household relies on essential medical equipment that needs power to run — are making contingency plans to leave town when PG&E shuts off power for up to five days when wildfire conditions reach a critical tipping point.

“P&E has spent the better part of their existence building a utility monopoly that gouges its customers and skirts regulations,” Howze said on Thursday. “Forcing blackouts on Manteca residents to cover PG&E’s own flagrant mismanagement only makes victims of our community and neighbors.

“PG&E has proven time and time again that they are a profit-driven special interest first, with little regard for the public welfare.

“Our local, state and federal officials must hold PG&E accountable for their actions and I wholly support the transfer of electrical power service to SSJID.”

Snyder indicated Thursday that he’ll be forced to leave Manteca and stay with relatives in the Bay Area when PG&E pulls the plug.

PG&E’s announcement that they are incapable of serving Manteca when they de-energize transmission lines serving high risk fire areas 40 to 60 miles to the east caught local residents off guard.

The city is scrambling to get emergency plans in place including keeping 83,750 residents healthy and safe for as long as five days and nights without electricity.

There will be only a day’s notice, if that, when PG&E decides to cut the power to all of Manteca.

PG&E informed city officials if their new policy had been in place over the last two years they would have cut power to Manteca three times.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email