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Speeding things up: Manteca’s leaders finally serious about addressing speeding
PERSPECTIVE
lathrop speed lump
Speed lumps in a Lathrop neighborhood.

Councilman David Breitenbucher on Tuesday made a request.

He wants Manteca Police to stage targeted enforcement days to specifically go after stop sign and red light runners using a state traffic safety grant.

The retired firefighter, who has seen more than his share of the end result of wanton disregard of traffic laws, noted red light running and such has become blatant in Manteca

Less than 48 hours earlier, a Tesla driver scored the trifecta of road mayhem in Manteca.

She was driving an estimated 100 mph down Union Road.

She ran a red light.

And she was drunk.

Believe it or not, when she slammed into Jack’s Pizza after shearing a PG&E pole and injuring five people,  including one seriously, she was at least the fourth driver to hit a building during the past 12 months or so in Manteca.

It’s easy to do if you’re paying more attention to texting than driving, speeding, and/or are under the influence of your drug of choice whether it is liquid courage or stuff such as aptly named “speed”.

It’s also possible to do when you indulge in marijuana irresponsibly that relaxes one as well as slow down reflexes.

Granted, under the influence of marijuana, you wouldn’t take out a large portion of a building but you can still do a lot of property damage and even maim a few people in the process.

If one was cynical and simply referenced Manteca history, you’d be saying to yourself “targeted enforcement for red light and stop sign runners — like that’s going to happen.”

If you’ve been around Manteca long enough, you’ve heard the old spiel.

Even if the city could afford to have 100 traffic officers, they can’t be posted on every street.

The three “E”s that make the difference is engineering, education, and enforcement.

It’s clear by now that Manteca isn’t likely to anytime soon have six traffic cops on the street 24/7.

That means the education and enforcement part of the three “E”s that involves giving warnings and issuing tickets are never going to make much of an impact in Manteca.

But the first “E” — engineering — can.

That’s because engineering solutions are passive and are in place 24/7.

Yes, not all drivers fall in line. There are some that find ways to circumvent engineered solutions.

But here’s the indisputable truth: Engineering solutions are a more economical and more effective way to rack up more compliance with laws than relying on police manpower to be intense enough 24/7 to do the trick.

Yet, this city in the past has put up enough barriers to drag the process to institute steps to make existing city streets safer to prompt many residents to give up in frustration with what they perceived as bureaucratic red tape.

Go back four years, and if you worked at it for 18 months or so you might get speed lumps put in place.

Or if you are the good folks on Mission Ridge Drive, you can invest over three years and get the city to come up with pavement stripes and radar speed signs, where residents along the street have seen their share of drivers stepping on the gas to get higher numbers flashing back at them.

Then something happened.

It started about the same time as the existing council makeup arrived two years ago along with a homegrown city manager.

The council wanted the city to be more responsive.

The rank-and-file city staff wanted to be more responsive.

And first interim and then permanent City Manager Toni Lundgren led efforts to change Manteca’s municipal culture.

On Tuesday, a number of residents in southwest Manteca suddenly inundated with more traffic and more speeders due to motorists finding a shortcut to a detour that will be in place for months, appeared at the Manteca City Council meeting.

Diablo View Drive has become treacherous, especially for neighborhood kids and others accessing a park that the street runs along.

The City Council agreed.

By Wednesday, the solution was already moving forward.

No bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

Capable city staff went out, made an assessment, noted a recently adopted development policy calls for traffic calming measures at new neighborhood parks, and made a decision.

Speed lumps should be in a place within two weeks.

And they will be on the developer’s dime that is creating the months long mess.

There was “no short circuiting” of standards. Instead, honest-to-goodness red tape was not just cut, it was shredded.

On Oct. 7, Daniels Street residents reached their tipping point of patience about speeding and accidents on a stretch between Junction Drive and Fishback Road after a neighbor was killed in an accident on the street.

They appeared at the Manteca City Council meeting and shared their frustrations.

Speed lumps — such as on Hacienda Avenue and in front of Sierra High — were suggested.

Seven weeks later, staff came back to the council confirming speed lumps as the best solution and residents whose homes they’d be placed in front of were on board.

The speed lumps are expected to be in place by mid-December.

When that happens, it will have taken less than 10 weeks as opposed to 18 months.

At the same time, elected leaders were well aware of the bureaucratic bum’s rush Mission Ridge Drive residents endured in the past after twice trying to get the most effective traffic calming measures in place.

Mission Ridge Drive is almost a mirror of traffic issues on Daniels Street.

So instead of waiting for disillusioned Mission Ridge residents to decide whether to put themselves out there again to see if the third time is a charm, the city is taking the initiative and taking a second look at traffic calming devises for the street next week.

All while Mayor Gary Singh clearly doesn’t speak for the entire council, there is little doubt the rest of the city’s elected leaders are on board with two observations he made regarding traffic calming.

If a neighborhood wants speed lumps and staff goes down an established check list without turning it into a drawn out bureaucratic process and concurs, they should be put in place.

Older neighborhoods in Manteca should expect their streets to meet the same general safety standards the city has established for new development.

Specifically, that is the deployment of traffic calming measures such as pedestrian bulb-outs at intersections or speed lumps near schools and parks.

Singh said obviously that can’t occur where parks or schools are along major streets.

But if there is a safety issue and such measures can be implemented, they need to happen.

The shift in attitude and practice comes as the city is giving serious consideration to red light cameras as well as moving forward with traffic safety measures on North Main Street.

They finally get it.

If there are not enough “sheriffs” to corral speeders, then they need to make the streets safer and less conducive to speeding with traffic calming measures.

This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com