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Speeding Mission Ridge Drive traffic causes crashes, imperils safety

Steve Keegan will tolerate the occasional trucks and the Regional Transit buses ferrying workers to Livermore Lab.

He gets that as Manteca grows more and more traffic will be using Mission Ridge Drive as a short cut.

But what he won’t accept is the speeding and numerous accidents over the years that jeopardize his safety and that of his neighbors.

“All we are asking for is four stop signs,” Keegan said Wednesday.

Keegan is also tired of his neighbors’ parked cars being wrecked, fire hydrants being sheared off, vehicles crashing into garages, elderly handicapped residents along the street being in near misses as they cross the street to reach cluster mailboxes, as well as parents who ban their children from crossing Mission Ridge Drive in fear for their safety.

He is one of four long-time Mission Ridge residents who approached the City Council six weeks ago to address their concerns. And as far as Keegan and his neighbors are concerned — including a number of others that did not attend the City Council meeting — their plea for help fell on deaf ears. No one from the city staff or council has contacted Keegan’s neighbor Robert Fennell — who spoke for the neighbors — to discuss what can be done to improve safety on their street.

It is why Keegan has vowed to show up at City Council meetings at least once a month until stop signs are installed on Mission Ridge Drive at Swan Drive and Mission Ridge Drive at Locust Drive.

The Swan Drive intersection is on a curve where speed and sight-line issues have led to a number of crashes over the years. It has made backing out of driveways a heart pounding endeavor ever since traffic started picking up when the city extended Industrial Park Drive to Spreckels Avenue. In doing so the city created a continuous road that starts as Cottage turns into Spreckels and then into Industrial Park Drive and then Mission Ridge Drive before T-intersecting with Union Road. It increased traffic heading to the Target shopping area that seeks to avoid the congested Yosemite Avenue corridor and the dangerous 120 Bypass. After Costco opened a decade ago, traffic started picking up as residents in east Manteca on weekends use the street that changes names four times in less than four miles to reach the wholesale retailer by taking a short jog on Union Road to travel Daniels Street.

The Locust intersection is mid-way between the only two existing stop signs on the nearly 1.5-mile stretch of Mission Ridge Drive between Union Road and South Main Street.

Neighbors would also like to see high visibility crosswalks installed at the two intersections.

On Wednesday Keegan gathered with three of his neighbors at Fennell’s home to voice their frustrations and to share their belief the established sections of Manteca are getting the shorter end of the stick when it comes to the city’s attention. They noted new neighborhoods south of the 120 Bypass have ample traffic calming devices such as bulb-outs at all corners of neighborhood parks, narrower collector streets, high visibility crosswalks and even roundabouts.

Between the four they have lived on Mission Ridge Drive for a combined 98 years — Keegan for 28 years, Jim DuClair for 18 years, Fennell for 24 years, and Dave Conley for 28 years.

Conley has been on the receiving end of three accidents involving his parked cars and property over the past 28 years due to his home being on the corner of Swan and Mission Ridge where the road curves . It included an incident a decade ago where a driver was going so fast he lost control and slammed into Conley’s garage where the stolen vehicle he was driving ended up being flipped on its roof. The driver then fled through his house and over the backyard fence. 

There was also a fourth accident where a speeding driver came up onto his lawn, veered back on Mission Ridge Drive and then  crashed into two parked cars down the street.

Live on Mission Ridge Drive long enough and residents say the odds are good a car parked in front of your home will get hit.

“I don’t park my cars on the street anymore,” Fennell said.

DuClair noted what neighbors don’t want to see is the city hire a consultant and study Mission Ridge Drive to death. Instead they’d like to see city officials — elected or otherwise — come out and see what they are up against.

“We are just asking for simple stop signs,” Keegan again said. “That’s all.”

City addresses some of

the safety issues on other

older collector streets

Manteca has a somewhat spotty record when it comes to addressing the concerns of residents that live along streets that are known as collector streets. Such streets are low-to-moderate capacity streets that serve residential neighborhoods and move traffic from local streets such as Swan Drive and Tahoe Avenue to arterials such as Union Road and Main Street.

 On Crom Street that runs from Union Road to Airport Way there are few houses on the south side due to it bordering the golf course. Parents concerned about Crom being used as a short cut and the high speed of traffic got the city to do three things: Install sidewalks along the golf course for kids walking to and from Stella Brockman School, place stop signs at Crom intersections with Silverado as well as Foxfire, and installed bulb-outs to narrow the traffic lanes to slow traffic.

On South Powers in the late 1990s due to traffic using the street as a short cut to go from Moffat to Yosemite, neighbors got the city to install stop signs at Marin Street as well as place medians at three intersections that were designed to slow traffic.

That was followed up nearly 10 years ago when Councilwoman Debby Moorhead championed neighborhood concerns and got staff to look at Powers from Marin to Yosemite. Staff, that had balked at doing anything out of concerns it would slow fire engines responding to emergencies from the Powers Avenue station, after one visit on site with Moorhead when classes were letting out at Lincoln School installed safety measures within a month. That included all-way stops and crosswalks at Hutchins Street and Powers and reducing the travel lane widths by moving bicycle lanes farther from the curb. It slowed down traffic and made it safer for children to walk not just to and from school but to Lincoln Park and adjacent Manteca Little League playing fields.

Four years ago when Cottage Avenue  residents between Alameda and Pine Street asked the city to take steps to improve safety and secured a promise to do so at  a council meeting, nothing was ever done. Cottage Avenue is probably the most problematic collector street in Manteca as it started as a narrow neighborhood street on a road that led to the country and T-intersected at Yosemite Avenue near the former Spreckels Sugar plant. With another 495 homes going in on Louise Avenue traffic and speeding on Cottage is likely to pick up more.

Mission Ridge differs from the collector streets mentioned in one significant way — it is much wider.

The city over the years has repeatedly pointed out narrower streets tend to slow traffic. It was one of the pitches when lanes were narrowed on Louise Avenue two years ago to make room for bike lanes and center landscaped medians.

It is that width — and the long distance between stop signs — that Fennell said creates a de facto speedway on Mission Ridge.

It is common for motorists to travel the posted speed limit and be tailgated by impatient drivers.

“They just don’t care,” Keegan said of such motorists.

It is also a fairly routine occurrence for some of those motorists to pass vehicles going the speed limit on the right by going into the bicycle lane.

 Fennell added that they understand police staffing is an issue which is why they’d like to see the city take proactive steps to reduce speed by installing stop signs.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email