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Different approach to traffic may signal real work culture change at Manteca’s City Hall
chick fil a change
A turn lane has been added for overflow Chick-fil-A drive thru traffic on Northwoods Avenue.

Back-ups that have plagued East Yosemite for more than two years since Chick-fil-A opened are finally showing signs of improvement.

Traffic snarls in the 100 block of northbound Main Street tied to vehicles overflowing the left turn pocket queue for Center Street have been eliminated.

Parked trucks that created substantial safety hazards for pedestrians crossing Moffat Boulevard between Powers Avenue and Cowell Avenue  — while at the same time the corridor was becoming an open-air truck maintenance site — are gone.

The solutions can all trace their roots back to a decision to eliminate the “silo approach” to city issues involving traffic and pressing street concerns.

In bureaucratic jargon — whether one is talking about the private or private sector — organizational silos refer to business or government divisions operating while avoiding the sharing of information. Or, more precisely in Manteca’s case, it refers to how problems are looked at in one department then passed on to another for more input and then yet to another before circling back to the start and possibly starting all over again as suggested changes surface.

What started in February after the departure of Toby Wells, the last permanent city manager who was on the job for less than five months, was the formation of an inter-department traffic/street concerns team.

The goal was to find solutions or fixes to solve smaller problems as opposed to tackling big projects such as new interchanges, arterials, and such.


Interdepartmental traffic

team is meeting at

least once a month

The team comprised of Kevin Jorgenson from the engineering department, Carl Brown from public works, Josh Sweeten from the Manteca Police Department and Aaron Jeffries from the streets division meet at least once a month to look at issues and come up with workable solutions.

The goal is to do the work as quickly as possible as well as to do it not in a cheap manner but as inexpensive as possible while doing it right by having the work done in-house. That means no consultants, no hired outside engineers to do traffic studies or designs, and no putting small projects out to bid.

The approach empowers mid-management whose day-to-day workplace tends to be literally on the streets of the city as opposed to 100 percent cooped up at city hall. It teams them up with engineers and others who can turn envisioned solutions into a work plan that can be executed.

Given how that is what Manteca has been doing for years to come up with solutions, the big difference is knocking down the silo approach when tackling traffic solutions as well as the city manager’s office empowering senior management staff to carry out solutions to problems elected leaders or management have identified as needing to be addressed without getting bogged down in more red tape.

The traffic team worked with Chick-fil-A to address traffic flow issues that have plagued Yosemite Avenue and Northwoods Avenue since the fast-food endeavor opened in March 2020.

Chick-fil-A made some on-site and operational changes. But the biggest gain was from setting back the sidewalk to allow adequate space for cars trying to access the drive-thru lane to move to the right so they do not block thru traffic on Northwoods Avenue.

Given the city conditioned approval of Chick-fil-A with the requirement they would have to make additional improvements if the project ended up posing traffic issues, the work was all on the fast-food franchise’s dime.

Although Main Street overall through downtown has been talked about for years with solutions proposed and then yanked back at the last minute, the upgrades now in place involving the turn lane only were advanced earlier this year.

The work — which staff designed so that it would not have to be removed if the council ultimately decides to make the corridor through downtown four lanes — was then done in-house and within two months after the council essentially signed off.


City hall culture change

not on seismic level

but it could get there

The synchronization of the traffic signals on Main Street from Moffat Boulevard to Alameda Street is waiting on the shipment of equipment and software the city has ordered. Once it is delivered to the city, it will be installed.

Staff is hoping that will happen within the next two months.

The  no parking zone on the section of the southside of Moffat between Powers and Cowell came about fairly quickly after the interdepartmental traffic team looked at the problems that needed to be addressed.

Manteca city hall for years has been slammed for snail-paced responses in the past to many ongoing community issues including traffic.

And while the time frame the three solutions were devised and put in place may not strike many as being lightning fast, for government they were relatively nimble.

And they got done without compromising regulations the city needs to follow to make sure warrants or other requirements were met.

It’s not a seismic shift but it could get there.

Management staff is exploring other ways to make the city more responsive to addressing community needs.

The team approach to looking for — and then implementing — solutions for traffic/street issues has taken root during the time period Toni Lundgren served as acting city manager and now as interim city manager.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email