Southern California transportation experts, looking for ways to accommodate dramatically increasing truck traffic in the Inland area, have been looking into truck-only lanes.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise
reports that officials have been conducting a nine-month study on the workability of truck lanes on a 38-mile stretch of Highway 60.
A study spearheaded by the California Department of Transportation and the Southern California Association of Governments reveals that Highway 60 is one of the most heavily traveled roads in the Inland area, and could see a 50 percent increase in truck traffic over the next 20 years. In addition, according to economists, the amount of cargo arriving at Southern
California ports is expected to quadruple by 2020, requiring more distribution centers and warehouses to open in the Inland area, where land is more affordable than other Southern California areas.
A plan developed by the Association of Governments and Caltrans will add two truck lanes in each direction to Highway 60 from Interstate 710 to Interstate 15. In some places, the lanes would be built along the road, while in others they would be built over the highway. Officials hope to open the lanes in nine or 10 years. Trucks would not be restricted to the new lanes, but cars would not be allowed to use them.
The plan faces financial hurdles. Studies show that the truck lanes will cost 20 to 25 percent more than originally projected, which will bring the grand total to between $4 billion and $4.5 billion. Since the projections call for only 30 percent of the lanes being built above the highway, the cost has increased since more land needs to be purchased for the remaining 70 percent. The design of on- and off-ramps for trucks to safely bypass other traffic is another obstacle.
Increased tolls at about 70 cents per mile will finance 25 percent of the project, with the rest to be paid for by federal, state and local sources.