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Que sera, sera is unacceptable for truck routes
Dennis Wyatt

Here’s a prediction.

The conversation at the first community workshop that takes place Monday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. at the Transit Center on Moffat Boulevard on where truck routes should be located throughout Manteca while likely be summed up in 11 words: “Trucks. We can’t live with them, we can’t live without them.”

Those residing along or near potential truck routes will rightfully raise questions about noise, traffic, and safety although most of the safety issues besides pedestrians being able to cross streets center on drivers that cut off trucks. That said there has been a disturbing frequency of solo big rig accidents every two years or so on Louise Avenue where a truck manages to drive through a sound wall and into backyards.

Truck drivers and those that operate trucking firms will argue our economy couldn’t function without trucks. Look around your house including cupboards, drawers, closets, inside the refrigerator, inside the garage, in the driveway and in the yard and you will be hard pressed to find one thing that you own that didn’t require trucks to move raw materials to make it or to move the finished products to market.

Like it or not Manteca is a city of 81,450 well on its way to 120,000 plus residents. And in order to help the job market catch up with the housing market there will need to be a lot more trucks on our roads.

The last thing we need at this juncture is for the city to break into a chorus of Doris Day’s “Que se Sera, Sera” song (“What will be, will be”) and do business as usual.

Elected city leaders get brownie points for pushing for a citywide truck route study and making it a priority. But if all that comes from it are specific streets being officially designated as truck routes, it would be more effective to take $150,000, pile it at Airport Way and Lathrop Road that promises to be ground zero for hellacious truck movements, douse it with gasoline, and drop a match.

The truck route study needs to include a game plan that makes Manteca’s economy viable, the impacted areas of the community livable, and keeps our streets as safe and uncongested as possible.

Lathrop Road and Airport Way are likely to be designated truck routes much to the chagrin of more than a few residents. In case anyone hasn’t noticed there are a ton of trucks already moving to and from employment centers in Lathrop from Highway 99. And let’s not forget Manteca has started to deliver on the job demand many in the community have voiced for years by snagging business park development along the Airport Way corridor that is a natural locale given it is near the Union Pacific intermodal facility and backs up to railroad trucks.

Some may think the city should require truck traffic from the area within the city they are allowing to develop as business parks to go through Lathrop to reach Manteca-based distribution centers and such. Besides not being neighborly, it is questionable that Manteca can justify contorting truck routes to and from business parks they are allowing to be built.

Rest assured that some trucks either originating or heading to business parks along the Airport Way corridor will go down Lathrop streets even if they aren’t “supposed to.”

That said, here’s what needs to be addressed in the truck route study:

uProper improvements need to be in place.

On streets that Manteca designates as truck routes, if there are existing improvements that do not meet standards for safe truck movements they need to be replaced within a year. This includes but isn’t limited to turn radius and how it may require curbs, sidewalks and even traffic signals to be relocated. There also needs to be aggressive signage not only designating truck routes but also signs on streets that intersect designated truck routes making it clear that are not truck routes.

uAggressive enforcement.

Manteca Police need to have the training it takes to be able to identify trucks that can’t legally use a truck route but can use STAA routes designed for longer trucks. If they can’t legally write tickets for such infractions then the city has a moral obligation to spend money to contract with the CHP to assure there are periodic enforcement efforts in Manteca.

uMake designated truck routes the safest and quietest they can be.

Alright, I should have said make Lathrop Road as tolerable as possible since the odds are it will end up as a truck route even though there are those that are dead set against the idea for justifiable reasons.

There is one major thing the city needs to do and that is break up the 45 to 55 mph road that Lathrop Road is and has become given it will one day be four lanes. 

To slow drivers, reduce collisions, and keep traffic moving existing intersections with streets leading to neighborhoods south of the sound wall and any future connection to Lathrop Road that justifies traffic signals should have roundabouts put in place. There is available land north of Lathrop Road to make that happen.

A roundabout needs to go in at Lathrop Road and Airport Way that accommodates truck movements from all directions. The city needs to bite the bullet and buy the needed land instead of waiting for it to develop or redevelop and to do so by a set date do make the roundabout feasible.