Less than 20 hours after a seven-vehicle collision killed one person, seriously injured two and sent six others to the hospital with minor injuries just east of the South Main Street interchange on the eastbound 120 Bypass, two more people suffered major injuries in another rear-end crash near the same exact spot.
It was one of two injury accidents on the 120 Bypass Tuesday. The victims were two German tourists in their mid-20s that slammed into the rear of a propane service truck from Ripon on Tuesday at noon just 200 yards east of Monday’s fatality.
Then at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday a middle-aged couple was injured in the westbound lane west of Airport Way after rolling their Mercedes Benz down an embankment.
Manteca Councilman Richard Silverman indicated at Tuesday’s council meeting he contacted Caltrans after the fatal accident to see where they are on safety improvements.
He was told the first project — an additional electronic warning sign between Union Road and Airport Way on eastbound 120 that is tied into four traffic monitoring installations using cameras to give motorists real time updates on slowing and backed up traffic — will start next month. The project is costing $578,000.
The installation of a series of signs designed to warn drivers as well as changing the striping on the Bypass east of Main Street could start by September 2017. In addition a large sign attached to a bridge structure on Highway 99 warning trucks to only use the right lane through the 120 interchange could be in place by March 2017. That would help address merge issues into Highway 99 traffic.
“Keep in mind these are the short term solutions,” Silverman said.
Caltrans is working on major projects to change the actual 120/99 interchange ramps and even re-work the Austin Road overcrossing to improve safety. That project could break ground as early as 2021.
Julie Minton, a Manteca resident who has established a Facebook page in addition to continually reminding Caltrans of the need to address safety concerns, spoke before the council Tuesday.
“We need you (the council) to keep the pressure on,” Minton said of her 1,450 followers on Facebook as well as other Manteca residents. “We are all counting on you.”
The additional signs that will be put in place a year from now will be placed on existing overcrossings or sign trusses on eastbound 120 between Interstate 5 and 99. They will read:
“SR-99 exit 3 miles” at the Airport Way overcrossing.
“SR-99 North Sacramento, SR-120 Yosemite Sonora” and “SR-99 South Modesto Fresno 2 miles” at the Union Road overcrossing.
“SR-99 North Sacramento, SR-120 Yosemite Sonora” and “SR-99 South Modesto Fresno 1 mile” at the Main Street overcrossing.
“SR-99 North Sacramento, SR-120 Yosemite Sonora” and “SR-99 South Modesto Fresno exit only” at the existing sign trusses just prior to Highway 99.
Ground may break
solution in 2021
Two alternatives are being considered for the long-term improvement with the goal of starting work in the summer of 2021.
The first could cost as much as $40 million. It would widen the connector to southbound 99 to two lanes, construct braided ramps (that are physically separated from freeway lanes) at the Austin Road interchange and replace the Austin Road crossing to provide and additional southbound 99 through lane. In some instances braided ramps require constructing bridge structures to send traffic above other lanes.
The second would cost upwards of $29 million and widen the connector to two lanes, permanently close Austin Road on and off ramps and replace the Austin Road overcrossing to provide an additional southbound 99 through lane.
The long-term project is proposed for funding with help from Measure K sales tax and savings from the proposition 1B projects for Highway 99 improvements through the Central Valley as well as federal money. The funding has not been confirmed.
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