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Morowit pushing for radar speed signs in bid to address neighborhood concerns
better speed sign.jpg
This is an example of a sign with the posted speed and a solar-powered radar display that tells drivers how fast they are going.
Councilman Mike Morowit says the time has come for Manteca to be much more nimble in responding to neighborhood concerns over speeding and pedestrian safety.
Morowit wants to see the city start deploying traffic calming and safety enhancing devices that don’t require full scale traffic studies. What he has in mind are solar powered radar speed signs that have the posted speed limit and display the speed of approaching vehicles. Law enforcement leaders have repeatedly said it is an effective strategy with 85 percent of the drivers that exceed posted limits as they simply aren’t aware that they are speeding. The other is adding solar powered red flashing lights atop stop signs at intersections where drivers have developed the habit of rolling through them to comprise safety.
During council comments at Tuesday’s meeting Morowit voiced frustration that the city is taking too long to address neighborhood safety concerns. He cited the recent issues brought up along Mission Ridge Drive by Robert Fennell at a council meeting last month regarding speeding and increased traffic along Mission Ridge Drive as people seek short cuts to avoid congestion on arterials or to reach Costco and other stores from the east side of Manteca without having to get on the 120 Bypass.
“We’re getting too big as a city to rely on studies to determine what needs to be done,” Morowit said Wednesday.
By that he means Manteca growth has triggered more concerns about neighborhood traffic that — if the city had to wait to take steps until after studies are done to see if traffic calming devices such as stop signs, roundabouts, and such are needed or justified — it would be months if not years before anything happened.
Morowit noted whether a study showed stop signs were justified or not it would be a number of months before the process reached that point. He believes placing the radar signs is an effective way to start addressing problems.
He noted that prices of such signs have dropped significantly and can be installed by city crews given the power source is solar. Morowit said it might even make sense for the city to purchase six or so at a time so that when concerns are brought up to city officials they could determine if a radar speed sign would help and then deploy them in a relatively quick fashion.
Morowit said what happens now is people get frustrated after approaching  the proper staff because of the processes in place. They end up feeling they have  no option but to bring their concerns to the council.
And whether a study ultimately determines three-way stop signs that have been requested at Locust Street and Mission Ridge Drive are justified, there are other options the city’s so-called “traffic calming tool box” lists that might be considered such as roundabouts.
While roundabouts are more expensive, there is adequate room to install one at the Mission Ridge/Locust Avenue location much as Ripon did in several spots in older neighborhoods where increased traffic created safety and speed issues.
Not all stop sign requests have required full blown traffic studies. A number of years ago Councilwoman Debby Moorhead — after bringing up the issue of speeding on Powers Avenue near Lincoln School, Lincoln Park and Lincoln Pool at a council meeting — got Public Works Director Mark Houghton to accompany her at key times to see traffic issues.
After just making a few observations a three-way stop was put in place on Hutchins Street and Powers Avenue and new bike lanes were put in place that helped narrow travel lanes. The end result was slower speeds and enhanced pedestrian safety at the intersection without paying a consultant to tell the city whether it was justified.
The city spent over $12,000 on traffic studies to determine whether overhead caution lights and an enhanced crosswalk was needed where Buena Vista Drive crosses Woodward Park after the council agreed to do so when presented with petitions signed be nearby residents. It took almost four years for that crosswalk safety enhancement to be put in place.
The Yosemite Avenue corridor upgrade between Main Street and Cottage Avenue moving forward this fall includes two such overhead crossing flashing lights at Garfield and Sherman avenues in front of Manteca High. After listening to community concerns and observing the problems firsthand, the city staff went ahead and included the crosswalk enhancements without conducting a full blown traffic study.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email