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General plan update workshop tonight
Truck traffic helps make Lathrop Road and nearby Airport Way among the noisiest streets in Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

If you live in the far western section of Del Webb at Woodbridge and you believe traffic noise on Airport Way is a bit loud, it’s not your imagination.

The consulting firm cobbling together the update for the City of Manteca general plan — the state mandated document that will serve as the blueprint for growth through 2040 — says it is the loudest roadway in Manteca reaching 72.7 decibels at times some 100 feet from the centerline. That’s in a decibel range framed by the sounds of a dishwasher at 70 decibels and a vacuum cleaner at 75 decibels. By comparison to the Airport Way segment, it exceeds the typical noise level along the 120 Bypass that doesn’t top 73 decibels.

In the future, however, with Altamont Corridor Express planning service to downtown Manteca and farther south that will require double tracks as well as envisioned increases in Union Pacific movements, noise from railroad traffic may be a bigger factor over the next 20 years than from vehicle traffic.

Noise and safety is the subject of a general plan citizens, committee workshop set for tonight at 6 o’clock at the Manteca Transit Center, 220 Moffat Blvd.

The safety element touches on issues such as flooding and how creating more impervious surfaces — rooftops, roads, parking lots, sidewalks and such — increases water run-off and exacerbates issues involving river flows and levee conditions. Safety issues also are addressed dealing with hazardous materials within the city as well as those transported through Manteca in trucks on freeways as well as by train.

The goal of the general plan is to identify issues, limit exposure to excessive noise levels and safety problems excluding police and fire services that will be addressed in a future workshop, as well as goals and potential policies the city needs to address concerns. A previous general plan update, as an example called for the establishment of sound walls to mitigate noise.

The biggest safety issue by far facing the city is providing 200-year flood protection for the southwest portion of the city as mandated by the state. The solution expected to come in at around $180 million is being split with Lathrop. Manteca’s share is one third of the final cost.

The only noise issue of consequence to come up since the last general plan update is train noise. At least five times in the last 15 years train noise has been brought up by citizens as a growing problem. The last time in 2014 the Manteca City Council went as far as exploring the costs of a wayside warning systems — the so-called quite zones that substantially reduce train whistle noises by installing stationary devices — at crossing such as Escalon deployed on the Santa Fe Railroad crossings at McHenry Avenue and Highway 120. The overall cost per grade can range from $185,000 to $500,000 and up to $10,000 per year for maintenance at each crossing. Manteca has 10 at-grade crossings.


Decibel levels for

major streets part

of workshop report

Projected decibel levels determined by the consulting firm are included in background for tonight’s gathering. It notes Manteca’s acceptable maximum levels for outside noise in residential, hospital, and church zones are 60 decibels. It jumps up to 65 decibels for office buildings and 70 decibels for playgrounds and neighborhood parks.

Given the nature of traffic noise, the city’s current general plan provides exceptions to the maximum noise targets for major roads — surface streets as well as freeways — and passing Union Pacific trains. That said one of the existing general plan policies is for aggressive enforcement by the Manteca Police Department for violations of the California Vehicle Code regarding vehicle muffler noise and modified exhaust systems.

Other city street segments that exceed the 70 decibels threshold on a routine basis are Lathrop Road from Airport Way to Austin Road, Yosemite Avenue from McKinley Avenue to Union Road and Main Street to Highway 99, Airport Way from Yosemite Avenue to the 120 Bypass and from Woodward Avenue to Nile Road, Main Street from Yosemite Avenue to the 120 Bypass.

Topping the list for noise in Manteca is a non-city street — the segment of Highway 99 south of the 120 Bypass at 77.9 decibels.

The ability for the public to comment is part of tonight’s workshop agenda.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email