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New route: Truckers can keep on trucking

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New route: Truckers can keep on trucking

Truckers will soon be able to use Spreckels Avenue legally if the City Council adopts a federally approved truck route designation on Tuesday.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED December 14, 2009 3:06 a.m.

A few simple signs are going to save truckers a bundle in fines.

The Manteca City Council Tuesday is expected to designate Main Street at the Highway 120 Bypass to East Yosemite at Highway 99 – via Industrial Park Drive and Spreckels Avenue – as a federal Surface Transpsotation Assistance Act truck route.

The California Highway Patrol has aggressively been pulling over trucks – that include tractor and trailer – measuring 75 feet. A federal standard established in 1982 allows trucks that long but they must use surface truck routes that can accommodate them legally. The CHP wasn’t giving them tickets for that infraction. Rather they were giving truckers information on the need to lobby the city and the firms they’re delivering to in order to press for changes. The CHP used the opportunity, though, to write up truckers for other infractions.

The CHP made it clear they’d start ticketing for tractor-trailers being too long if the route wasn’t adopted.

Truckers have been using the streets that are being designated without a problem for almost eight years. Then the CHP this year made it a point to go after the truckers to pressure the city.

Manteca has just finished an engineering study that shows the existing city infrastructure meets all of the STAA criteria. The city made a request that Caltrans check the two interchanges to make sure they met the criteria as well.

Caltrans determined they did. No changes will need to be made to get the CHP off the truckers’ backs except for three things – the placement of signs designating it as an approved STAA truck route, some restriping at the Yosemite Avenue interchange that will be done by the state, and Caltrans updating appropriate maps and records.

Councilman Steve DeBrum picked up the cause after funding out not only were truckers being hurt but the CHP action was making it difficult for Manteca to attract potential employers as the enforcement action was making it appear the city was anti-business.

County leaders who work to attract employers to San Joaquin County have noted that the CHP campaign in the middle of the Great Recession to force cities to comply with rules that have been in place since 1982 by pulling over truckers is branding the region as being anti-business at a time jobs are needed.

The San Joaquin County Council of Governments, as an example, had to intervene after the new Mountain House interchange was completed earlier this year to have Caltrans make striping modifications. One trucking firm owner called them “easy modifications” that Caltrans should have had in their design – just like Manteca in Spreckels Park. However, instead of the CHP pressing the local Caltrans office and elected leaders in San Joaquin County cities with their concerns about the 17-year-old law not being followed they instead chose to pull over truckers.

The problem is the distribution centers require the longer trailers. Four independent truckers have noted that the stepped up CHP campaign that has resulted them in being pulled over for education purposes to be cited for other issues is putting serious financial pressure on them and putting them at a disadvantage with national trucking firms that can absorb such tickets until the remedies are put in place.

The CHP has consistently noted they are issuing tickets not for the violation but for other reasons after truckers are pulled over to be “educated” about the need to pressure local officials to make changes.

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