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Manteca may take over maintenance of city traffic signals & street lights
Manteca municipal workers could eventually take over maintenance of the citys traffic signals. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The proliferation of traffic signals could end up creating as many as three City of Manteca jobs while reducing taxpayer expenditures.

In the coming months the city will explore the feasibility of bringing traffic signal and street light maintenance in house starting possibly in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.

The City Council last week renewed contracts with Siemens Industry for $150,000 to maintain Manteca’s 4,000-plus street lights and $275,000 to maintain traffic signals at 48 city intersections. Traffic signals at off-ramps and on East Highway 120 are the responsibility of Caltrans.

Back in the 1990s the city opted to use a private sector contractor after research showed they were less expensive than the contract they had at the time with Caltrans.

Since then the number of traffic signals has more than doubled in Manteca.

City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted staff believes the economies of scale may have reached a point that municipal staff can do the work.

The city will examine the staffing needs that McLaughlin indicated may involve three people — someone trained to do the work, someone on the ground for safety purposes to direct traffic and such, and a back-up for the technician. Given current staffing, it may require hiring staffing although not necessarily three positions.

Council members suggested McLaughlin contact nearby cities such as Ripon and Lathrop to see if a joint effort could save even more money.

Manteca would also have to acquire equipment needed to perform the work. Once those figures are taken into account the staff will compare it against retaining a private firm and present the findings to the council.

A decision a decade ago by the city council to purchase street lights from PG&E and then contract out the maintenance to the private sector saved the city $140,000 a year in maintenance and electricity costs once the acquisition of 1,674 street lights was paid off.