City mulls restrictions on truck corridors

Barring a welcome but unlikely infusion of money, the City's Public Works Department expects to recommend this fall that the City of Auburn start downgrading most of its truck corridors.

The upshot might be load restrictions of 10,000 pounds on some truck corridors, shelving plans to rebuild existing streets up to truck standards and keeping pass-through truck traffic off all but three of the soundest corridors.

City officials say that the truck corridors are breaking down under the constant strain of heavy traffic, but that voter initiatives, state measures and the sour economy have taken an enormous chunk out of the revenue they need to maintain the routes.

According to Public Works Director Dennis Dowdy, the current funding level is $1.5 million a year, but the need is in the multi-millions.

"That is not something we want to talk about, but I think we're down to starting that as soon as possible," Dowdy told members of the Public Works Committee on Monday.

Mayor Pete Lewis said that by downgrading the truck corridors, other drivers can use them longer.

"It means we could rebuild and preserve more of our arterial system faster, make it more available to more people," Lewis said.

Lewis added that Auburn is not the only city struggling with worn-out truck corridors. The City of Sumner allows big trucks into its industrial areas. But if those drivers want to deliver their cargo elsewhere in the city, the city requires them to unload onto smaller trucks.

According to city engineers, there are two types of truck corridors in Auburn:

• Existing truck routes that incorporate special design features like street grades, turning radii, street and lane widths, pavement strength and overhead obstruction heights. These are open to through-truck traffic, or truck trips that start and end outside Auburn city limits.

• Future truck routes that have not yet been built to truck standards but could be by agreement with a private developer or through a public improvement project. Until the city finds a way to bring such streets to truck standards, it will continue to restrict through-truck traffic.

Local truck traffic will be allowed to travel on non-designated truck routes just as it is today.

Dowdy recommended that West Valley Highway south of Peasley Canyon, 15th Street Southwest and Lakeland Hills Parkway stay open to through-truck traffic. He said those corridors are in good shape and should last another 10 years.

"Just about everything else on the map doesn't lead you through the city without getting into something else that we have to regulate or close," Dowdy said of the three corridors. "My guess is that, unless by a stroke of luck we are able to find the revenues between now and then, this fall we will bring forward a revised transportation plan that will list those three short routes on there."

By city code, all truck traffic above 30,000 pounds gross weight making local trips must travel by existing truck routes to a location as close to its delivery or pickup point as possible and then travel to that destination by the shortest route, staying on the arterial street network whenever possible.

The city code also allows the city to impose a $250 fine on any truck disregarding the restrictions.

The Mayor's Arterial Task Force will take up the subject today at its first meeting in two years.

"We have asked them for their determination as to which truck corridors should remain open and the funding mechanism," Lewis said.

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