Caltrans projects on Highway 101 in Richardson Grove State Park and on Highways 199 and 197 in Del Norte County will likely increase truck traffic significantly on the North Coast, according to a new study released by the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities (CRTP). This conclusion is contrary to claims made by Caltrans about the projects. The group says Caltrans’ conclusions are flawed and based on inadequate information.
The study looked at truck traffic on state highways throughout California. It compared the number of trucks on the road, how much of overall traffic is made up of trucks, and how fast those numbers are growing across different types of highways. The results of the study show that highways which allow “STAA trucks,” which are the largest vehicles allowed on the road, generally had heavier truck traffic. Highways which connect to other STAA truck routes had even heavier truck traffic. Highways 101 and 199 will end up in this category if the Caltrans projects are built.
“This study is designed to show what actually happens on the kinds of highways Caltrans is trying to create on the North Coast,” said Colin Fiske, Campaign Coordinator for CRTP. “This is a much more serious analysis than anything Caltrans has ever done. What the study shows is that the Caltrans projects at Richardson Grove and in the Smith River Canyon in Del Norte County are very likely to result in heavier truck traffic.”
“More heavy truck traffic is an important impact by itself,” Fiske continued, “and one that Caltrans has never studied. But even more important is what it means for all the other impacts of these projects. It means more noise, more pollution, more serious accidents, and more damage to local roads. It also means more impacts to the old growth redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park and the salmon in the Smith River. Caltrans needs to take this very seriously.”
The study was based on Caltrans’ own traffic data from throughout the state over the last two decades. It dismisses Caltrans’ assertions that the projects would not significantly increase truck traffic as “qualitative” and “based almost entirely on speculative survey results.”
Read the full study here.