Double-decker truck lane proposed

Nov. 10, 2011
The building of a 50-ft.-high, double-decker truck lane in a creekbed along the I-60 freeway was included the Southern California Assn. of Government’s draft Regional Transportation Plan adopted last week

The building of a 50-ft.-high, double-decker truck lane in a creekbed along the I-60 freeway was included the Southern California Assn. of Government’s draft Regional Transportation Plan adopted last week.

SCAG envisions a dedicated truck lane for electric trucks running from the 710 to 15 freeways along the east-west freight corridor as a cleaner way to move goods from the ports to points east, reducing congestion and improving air quality, the plan states.

The massive regional plan calls for raising gasoline taxes by 30 cents per gallon to pay for bridge retrofits, freeway improvements, rail lines, bicycle lanes and sidewalks. It is billed as a prescription for gridlock and foul air for 18 million Southern Californians, according to the Whittier Daily News.

“This plan is the best blueprint anyone can put forth in any region of the country. It is a good start for Southern California,” said Hasan Ikhrata SCAG executive director.

The plan also includes completing other local projects including closing of the 710 freeway gap, building car-pool lanes on the 10 Freeway through West Covina and the 5 Freeway through Santa Fe Springs, extending of the Gold Line Foothill extension to Glendora and expansion of the Metrolink commuter rail system. The plan cites the need to repair 1,238 bridges in Los Angeles County alone, all deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete by Caltrans engineers.

The transportation projects will cost about $450 billion to complete through 2035. Ikhrata said the plan is shy between $125 billion and $155 billion — or about $6 billion a year. Funding, he said, will rely on Washington raising the gasoline tax by 30 cents or imposing a national consumption tax. Other revenue-raising ideas include congestion pricing, whereby a single-occupant driver pays a fee to use a car-pool lane.

Opposition to the truck lane was raised by several cities in the area, especially Diamond Bar, which sees itself as already on the receiving end of truck traffic from the 60 and 57 freeways. Walnut, West Covina, Chino Hills, Montebello, South El Monte and Pico Rivera also opposed the truck lane, some for different reasons.

Diamond Bar officials testified, to no avail, that SCAG was too quick to write off other east-west freeway corridors on which to build the truck lane, such as the 91 freeway, the 210 freeway and the 10 freeway. They suggested that numerous truck lanes could be built, not just the massive one proposed for the San Jose Creek.

A proponent of the plan, however, said “it is cost-prohibitive to do that kind of thing in all different areas.” According Rolling Hills Estates Councilwoman Judy Mitchell, who is also a director of SCAG and a board member for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, most of the trucks carrying goods eastward from the ports travel the 60 freeway and other freeways don’t have the space to add a truck lane. The truck lane would remove up to 6% of the region’s smog-related emissions, she added.

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