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Ripon traffic getting worse; Manteca’s dirty pavers & guess what’s not working again
Dennis Wyatt
Dennis Wyatt

Those heading south across the Stanislaus River trying to get around the 120 Bypass afternoon crawl by getting off at Airport Way in Manteca and then zipping down West Ripon Road before meandering through the streets of Ripon to join the slow-motion Congo line known at Highway 99 are making even bigger traffic messes in Ripon.

Traffic backups have been horrendous for a longtime on Stockton Avenue and Second Street leading to the southbound Highway 99 on ramp. It was even worse Monday as the backup is starting earlier in the day. There were no less than 50 cars backed up making the Moffat Boulevard snafu in Manteca trying to reach Highway 99 pale in comparison.

Traffic heading from the 120 Bypass south into Modesto a year or so ago would start slowing down and backing up shortly after 3 p.m. without the added headache of a traffic accident. It has been starting to back up earlier and earlier — 2:10 p.m. starting at Austin Road on Monday — with no obvious cause such as the small plane that landed on Highway 99 near Crows Landing Road last week.

It is clear the Highway 99 corridor needs to be widened at some point to eight lanes from the 120 Bypass to Kiernan Road in Stanislaus County as is being proposed but after that you likely won’t be able to squeeze in more lanes without a major — and mega-expensive —upheaval.

It is why the $900 million deal cut to increase the gas tax that requires the Altamont Corridor Express commuter passenger service to be extended to Ceres by 2023 with stops in Modesto, Ripon, and downtown Manteca looks like a smart move more and more with every passing day.

Manteca boasts dirtiest

crosswalk pavers around

It’s been 15 years plus since Manteca spent almost $4 million placing specialty street light and traffic signal poles as well as crosswalk and sidewalk pavers in downtown along with other upgrades to give downtown a unique ambiance.

Anyone want to guess how many times they those pavers have been power washed? If you said zilch you’re right.

Most cities that make such an investment try to clean their pavers at least once a year.

Mayor Ben Cantu has noticed — as have more than a few other people — that the pavers are so filthy that it is hard to distinguish them from the asphalt. If the city had no intention of cleaning them once in a while they should have saved a bunch of money and used asphalt instead.

Cantu said he hopes the council can convince the city staff to clean the pavers. Perhaps after the Pumpkin Fair is over and before the holiday season starts might be an opportune time.

In fairness to the city about a decade ago when pigeons were splattering the traffic signal arms on Main at Yosemite and Center city crews did power wash the white droppings off while the city worked with nearby property owners to try and discourage pigeons from hanging around downtown.

At least the six-figure

taxpayer investment

worked for 4 months

Remember the in-ground crosswalk warning lights on Woodward Avenue at Wellington Avenue that stopped working 10 years after they were installed and remained in operable for 31 months until the city got around to replacing them?

The overhead warning lights that were part of  $314,150 in safety improvement upgrades this past summer stopped working about three weeks ago.

That’s right. They haven’t been installed for even four months and they’ve stopped working.

The situation speaks volumes regardless of the reason the warning lights put in place stopped working.

You might wonder why the city is spending $300,000 on an active transportation plan to boost walking and bicycling safety to try and encourage more people to get out of vehicles if they can’t even maintain what improvements for that purpose they already have in place.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email