After experiencing a bizarre near head-on collision on Pillsbury Road, Councilwoman Debby Moorhead has decided to step up her campaign to make the streets of Manteca less mean.
Moorhead hopes to enlist fellow council member Gary Singh in an effort to push for the city to follow the lead of nearby jurisdictions such as Lathrop, Stockton, and Turlock to deploy speed humps to force people to slow down while driving through residential neighborhoods.
Her first goal is to secure council support to direct staff to install speed humps on Clearwater Creek Boulevard — the man entrance to Union Road Ranch directly across from Del Webb at Woodbridge.
Several residents approached the council earlier this year about speeding on a stretch where there is no homes as well as along a blind curve where homeowners have said they fear backing out of their driveways. Another resident of the neighborhood approached Moorhead about the situation again during the past few days.
Singh has expressed interest in deploying speed humps to address growing safety issues that residents are bringing to elected officials’ attention. Historically, Manteca’s municipal staff has been against speed humps. They are not included on the list of “possible neighborhood traffic calming devices” that are part of a program adopted by the city in September 2000 to address speeding concerns when citizens push for solutions to safety issues.
It takes two council members to sponsor an agenda item for possible discussion and action at a council meeting.
The incident that prompted Moorhead to try and speed up the city addressing residents’ concerns as well as trying to make city streets safer happened to her several days ago on Pillsbury Road.
She was driving on the section just south of Woodward Avenue where there are medians with numerous gaps between intersections designed to allow access to driveways.
Moorhead was heading north when a young woman motorist — apparently impatient driving behind a City of Manteca garbage truck — suddenly pulled out from behind the truck and went around the median and started driving southbound in the northbound lane.
As Moorhead and the driver behind her slammed on their brakes, the woman driver accelerated. She then cut back into the southbound lane at the next gap in the median barely missing Moorhead and cutting in front of the garbage truck.
Several weeks ago a resident along Pillsbury Road came to the council to plead for them to do something to slow traffic down now that hundreds of new homes are being built in the area and traffic has increased significantly. She noted the radar speed trailers the police department places sometimes along Pillsbury will often slow people down momentarily but them they speed up when they pass it.
Police Chief Jodie Estarziau has indicated officers will do stepped up enforcement patrols when they can keeping in mind the city has three dedicated traffic officers for a city of 80,450 residents and more than 220 centerline miles of streets.
Singh has argued passive traffic calming devices that force motorists to slow down are more effective in terms of cost and actual results given Manteca — or any city for that matter — doesn’t have the resources to have officers everywhere. It is why many other cities make more use of traffic calming devices than Manteca does.
Councilman Mike Morowit has expressed frustration with the city’s responses to neighborhood concerns. One of the most recent are concerns along Mission Ridge Drive about pedestrian safety as well as parked cars and even homes being struck by speeders. Residents along Mission Ridge have asked for high visibility crosswalks and several more stop signs to enhance pedestrian safety and reduce speeding.
Manteca’s response to neighborhood traffic concerns fell off significantly a decade ago. That was when the recession hit and the city eliminated a position of a traffic engineer that was last filled by Dave Vickers.
Prior to that when neighbor concerns arose, Vickers would meet with residents to determine issues, share information from radar surveys that often show residents in the neighborhood create many of the speeding issues, mull over possible solutions, and then gain a consensus of what type of solution to ask the City Council to approve.
Vickers also was the person responsible to make sure the city wasn’t creating undo traffic safety issues when approving new projects.
The city created the traffic engineer position back in the 1980s when they approved the center anchored by SaveMart on North Main Street and failed to align the entrance/exit onto Louise Avenue with the driveway for the center that is now anchored by 24 Hour Fitness. The result of the non-alignment driveways has been to create numerous safety issues as well as confusion.
The 11 traffic calming devices identified in the program established in 2000 includes pavement markings, speed and warning signs, turn restrictions, street trees, chokers and bulb-outs, forced channelization, one-way streets, street closing, chicanes, traffic circles or roundabouts, and traffic signals.
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