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Business: Can it keep on trucking?
DeBrum wants to accelerate truck route work
A truck makes a wide turn on Center Street in Manteca on Wednesday. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The truck – pulling a trailer that brought its length to 75 feet – had its emergency flashers on as it approached DuPont Circle from the south on Spreckels Avenue. The driver waited for traffic to pass and then swung into the adjoining lane to safely navigate the tight turn.

It isn’t making Manteca Councilman Steve DeBrum happy. Nor is the fact the CHP has decided to turn the heat up on truckers – and distribution centers within Spreckels Park – in a bid to get a point across about standardized truck routes.

“The longer we wait the more it is going to hurt people,” DeBrum said Wednesday.

He was referring to the city’s current stance of waiting until Caltrans designates the Yosemite Avenue interchange at Highway 99 and the Main Street interchange at the Highway 120 Bypass as legal for the use of 75-foot-long trailers as allowed in the 1982 federal Surface Transportation Association Act.

Manteca has indicated they will proceed with making the turn radius wider on both DuPont Court and Phoenix Drive where they intersect with Spreckels Avenue that designation gets an OK from the state. DeBrum sees no point in waiting.

“We need to be proactive and not reactive,” said DeBrum, who vowed he’d talk to city department heads today to see what can be done to get the work that will be funded with redevelopment agency money done now instead of later.

DeBrum is also worried about the anti-business message that the CHP is inadvertently hanging around Manteca’s proverbial neck when the city is struggling with a 13.5 percent unemployment rate.

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 cites 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 75-foot length violation but for other reasons after truckers are pulled over to be “educated” about the need to pressure local officials to make changes.

DeBrum noted if Manteca wants to be known as being pro-business then the city should do what they can to protect distribution and trucking jobs.

DeBrum agrees with truckers that the city needs to widen the turn radius anyway and therefore shouldn’t delay. Public Works Director Mark Houghton noted the Main Street interchange on the Highway 120 Bypass is a standard diamond design so that part shouldn’t be a problem.

Caltrans has told the city they are fairly confident that restriping will bring the Highway 99 and Yosemite Avenue interchange that was just completed several years ago into compliance with the 1982 law. There is no timetable for Caltrans to get back to Manteca.

DeBrum noted that even if Main Street only passes muster, the work still needs to be done on the streets in Manteca. By waiting for the state to act, Manteca is just delaying making progress.

Trucking firms have also questioned the Moffat/Spreckels turn radius as being inadequate as well.

Most of the state’s freeway infrastructure has been designed for trucks with trailers that max out at 65 feet.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail