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Road maintenance has been falling behind as city keeps adding new streets due to growth
road crack
A dollar bill gives you an idea of the size of the pavement cracks on Hampton Place that range from 3 to 6 inches in width.

Cracks approaching dollar-bill size riddle residential streets throughout Manteca.

Examples can be found crisscrossing Hampton Place south of Doxey Park.

They’re not as prevalent as smaller cracks that are filled with brownish-yellow dead weeds much like you’ll find throughout Powers Tract east of Manteca High.

There are more than a few spots of washboard pavement punctured with potholes city crews on a routine basis keep re-filling with asphalt such as on southbound Spreckels Avenue approaching Moffat.

There are plenty of places where lane stripping “disappears” in the night hours due to severely faded paint or thermoplastic strips.

And no assessment of the city’s street maintenance prowess can be complete without taking a trip over raised sidewalks.

“The lack of city services is a disgrace to the community.”

It is a more than a fair statement for frustrated residents such as Diane Paskert to make.

And as Paskert noted in  a recent letter, the city appears to be making the quality of life and public safety in neighborhoods worse by failing to oversee the work on private sector contactors.

Golden State Utility Company replaced  utility lines recently in her neighborhood near George McParland School. They cut out sidewalk sections and refilled the holes they created with asphalt that has settled unevenly.

It is reminiscent of what the City of Manteca allowed to happen several years ago along East Yosemite Avenue adjacent the Curran Grove neighborhood sound wall and on Moffat south of Spreckels when a firm put in place fiber optic lines.
The asphalt wasn’t replaced with cement for more the  year. Meanwhile, the asphalt had settled and dropped an inch or so below the surrounding concrete creating serious tripping hazards.


Routine street maintenance

funded by city share of gas,

Measure K and general taxes

To understand how Manteca got into the street maintenance hole it is in today, you need to first separate routine maintenance from building new roadways.

New streets, for the most part, are on the dime of developers who pass the cost onto new homebuyers by collapsing the prorated cost into each house sold.

For major arterials they’re required to do the work in front of their project but nowhere else. At the same time,  they are assessed a fee per new home — that is absorbed into the home’s selling price as well — to fund the accumulative impact of growth that triggers the need for arterial work and other improvements such as  traffic signals away from each new neighborhood.

That means widening streets where development won’t occur for years to full four lanes or addressing issues created years ago such as Louise Avenue between the Highway 99 overcrossing and Main Street where it goes from four to two and back to four lanes, has to be done with money the city can raise.

Routine street maintenance that runs the gamut from stretching the life of pavement, keeping sidewalks safe, making sure pavement markings and signs are visible, clearing streets and clearing storm drains in wet weather to removing road hazards such as downed trees come out of the city’s pocket.

With public safety accounting for 62 percent of the general fund expenditures for day-to-day-services in Manteca’s $67.5 million municipal budget, it doesn’t leave  lot of money for other city functions.

It is why routine street costs are funded primarily by the city’s share of gas tax receipts the state distributes as well as a portion of the half cent Measure k countywide sales tax for roads and transportation that is set aide to augment city street maintenance budgets.

The bulk of gas tax and Measure K tax fund new road projects or replacement endeavors such as seismic retrofits for bridges as well as and rebuilding deteriorating freeway and highway lanes. In Manteca’s case, it was used to help rebuild a segment Lathrop Road between Airport Way and London Avenue that cost in excess of $1 million last summer.

The gas tax also funds ongoing Caltrans maintenance costs.

In some cases, the city has landed major federal grants to do major upgrades as they did two years ago on Yosemite Avenue from Cottage to Main as well as on Main from Yosemite to Atherton with the exception of Caltrans’ overcrossing of the 120 Bypass.

General fund dollars do go to street work but not much.


Street maintenance to the city

is like making sure you do

upkeep to keep vehicles running

That ongoing maintenance is akin to changing oil in your car, replacing tires that are wearing out, fixing brakes and similar tasks that extend the life of your vehicle and keep it in running order.

It also helps you to delay an expensive new car replacement as long as possible

Key points to keep in mind:

*The city’s 14-man streets maintenance division was slashed in half in 2008 due to the Great Recession.

*While the city is adding back a position this fiscal year, it will put the city street crew at 13 or one less than it was 14 years ago.

*In the past 14 years the city has added dozens and dozens of lane  miles of roads that need maintaining.

*Pavement deteriorates.

*To avoid poor roads from crossing over into bad roads that need to undergo expensive reconstruction, periodical slurries, seals and sometimes asphalt overlays need to be done to extend the life of the pavement.

Paskert — like countless others — can tell of how they have lived in the same house for 20 to 30 years and not once has the city’s done street work. Meanwhile they can point to newer neighborhoods built in the last 10 to 15 years such as on and around Woodward Park that have received slurry treatment.

But perhaps more dire is the fact there are residents such as in Powers Tract who note even basic work of oil sealing cracks haven’t happened in their neighborhood for as often as they once were. In doing so it puts those streets at risk of experiencing accelerated wear and tear.


City, to put it bluntly, is

using a strategy that essentially

ignores many older neighborhood

streets as long as they possibly can


The reason is simple but not one the city broadcasts.

With limited resources they have directed what funds they do have to avoid newer streets from deteriorating and adding to a backlog of pressing pavement issues that carried an estimate of $30 million plus to tackle two years ago.

Or to put it more bluntly, they are deliberately ignoring older neighborhoods as part of a strategy to prevent the city wide street  maintenance from getting worse.

They aren’t doing so willy-nilly. Every few years they have a citywide assessment of pavement conditions and make a decision based on resources and the condition of pavement to delay basic fundamentals in stretching pavement life to try and avoid incurring major future cost elsewhere down the road..

Typically, the city can city in recent years has been spending close to $2 million annually to whittle down the backlog. That is up from a few years back when available money was closer to $1 million

But with each passing year streets keep aging and deteriorating.


The solutions: More taxes

& adding street upkeep to

CFDs for future neighborhoods

The city has three options of which only two are viable to a degree.

The one that isn’t very viable is extending their hand out to state and federal sources for grants just like almost  every other city in the country is doing.

That leaves two potential solutions.

One is requiring homes in new subdivisions approved in the future to pay an annual fee as part of their community facilities district that is set aside for street work needed as the years unfold. Newer CFDs require annual fees to cover park and storm drain upkeep as well as street lighting within a new neighborhood.

That money can only be used in that particular subdivision.

How it benefits the rest of Manteca is simple. Those neighborhoods, for the most part, won’t be needing to compete for the same limited dollars that older neighborhoods do when it comes to funding needed street work.

The second solution is some form of a tax requiring voter approval.

It can be a restricted general sales tax increase, parcel tax or possibly trying to form a community facilities district within existing neighbors for the expressed purpose of funding street work.

At any rate, with a $30 million road work backlog as things stood two years ago, the city at its current rate would take 15 to 20 years to do all of that work.

That, however, would require wear and tear to completely cease on all other streets which will never happen.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email