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Fatal accident may accelerate traffic light project in Lockeford

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Posted: Tuesday, January 2, 2001 10:00 pm

Tuesday's fatal accident at the Highway 88-Victor Road intersection has renewed interest in getting a traffic light installed at the highly traveled intersection.

Donald Ford, 57, of Lodi was killed Tuesday morning in a fog-related accident. The driver of a semi-truck, turning left onto Highway 88 from eastbound Victor Road, crashed into Ford's pickup truck headed southwest on Highway 88 toward Stockton, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Caltrans officials were planning to install a stop light during the 2003-04 fiscal year, but they may make some interim improvements before that time, San Joaquin County Supervisor Jack Sieglock said Wednesday.

Caltrans engineers will visit the intersection, located on the southwestern edge of Lockeford, and determine by the end of next week whether a temporary signal can be installed, Sieglock said.

"We really need a light," said Peter Bregman, a Clements-Lockeford Chamber of Commerce director. "I think the chamber really needs to take the lead on this."

To no avail, chamber officials and Lockeford-area residents have asked Caltrans officials for several years for traffic lights at the Highway 88-Victor Road intersection and at another accident-prone intersection, Highway 88 and Kettleman Lane.

"As a county, we're urging them to give this a higher priority," according to Sieglock. "I'll be talking to our state legislators."

John Beckman, field representative for Assemblyman Anthony Pescetti, R-Rancho Cordova, said that Tuesday's accident will spur Pescetti to remind Caltrans to speed up the process.

The intersection currently has a stop sign for eastbound Victor Road motorists, who must negotiate speeding traffic from both directions on Highway 88, especially while turning left toward Lockeford.

The Highway 88-Victor Road intersection had 19 accidents between June 1, 1997 and May 31, 2000, Spradling said. There was one fatality during the three-year period, and 10 people were injured.

Statistics for the last seven months of 2000 were not available.

Spradling said the project has been delayed because federal regulations require Caltrans to bring the intersection up to current federal standards.

The positioning of overhead power lines and the curve heading from southwest Highway 88 onto westbound Victor Road must be studied before a light is installed, Spradling said.

Meanwhile, Caltrans plans to install a traffic light nearby at Highway 88 and Kettleman Lane by the end of the summer.

"Kettleman is worse yet," Bregman said. "Unless you really look past your passenger, you'll miss (seeing) the traffic."

The Highway 88-Kettleman intersection had 41 accidents and 25 injuries during the same three-year period, Spradling said. There were no fatalities.

Downtown Lockeford will also get a traffic signal in the near future, where Tully and Elliott roads cross Highway 88. The light was scheduled to be installed in 2000, but environmental and right-of-way issues caused the project to be postponed, Spradling said.

Beckman said he will lobby for quicker construction of the Victor Road-Highway 88 traffic light, but Pescetti's priorities were for stop lights in downtown Lockeford and on Highway 12 at Tower Park Marina, between Lodi and Rio Vista.

Downtown Lockeford and Tower Park Marina have been higher priorities, Beckman said, because he has heard more complaints in those areas and because they are in the middle of population areas.

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