Suit Filed to Stop Caltrans Trucking Project
A lawsuit has been filed by a coalition of environmental groups to stop a Caltrans project that will add truck lanes on the 60 through the Badlands. The group alleges that the truck lanes would enable developments such as the World Logistics Center.
Project Would Add 14,000 Truck Trips Per Day
According to the Press Enterprise, the suit, which was filed Thursday, June 16, says more truck lanes, “would add 14,000 daily truck trips, worsen already poor air quality and harm wildlife in the nearby San Jacinto Wildlife Area,” according to a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity.
Among the other plaintiffs in the case other than the environmental coalition are the Sierra Club, Residents for a Liveable Moreno Valley and the Friends of the Northern San Jacinto Valley. The environmental group is also suing the 40.6-million square-foot World Logistics Center that was approved by Moreno Valley last year.
Although transportation officials have also been critical of the warehouse project, they say the truck lanes are needed for public safety. Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga said the truck lanes are not being built for the logistics center.
The project would add one truck lane in each direction on a 4.5-mile stretch of highway 60 from Gilman Springs Road to Jack Rabbit Trail. The $138.4 million project was approved by Caltrans in May, and construction is set to begin in late 2017 or early 2018. Kasinga said it is to be completed by 2020.
The highway is known for its tight, twisting roadway that forces trucks to slow down while cars try to pass. As a result, the route has accident rates higher than the state average.
Opponents Cite Long-Term Outcomes of Children and Elderly
Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley said the lawsuit was short sighted because the project will benefit residents in Moreno Valley, the Pass and the desert who regularly use the highway in that area.
Kasinga said the additional lanes would allow slower-moving trucks and cars to move to the side and into their own lane.
George Hague, a member of the Sierra Club, said the additional lanes would attract more truck traffic and lead to more warehouse development. He said more tractor trailer traffic and warehouses would worsen the regions air quality, impacting the health of children and the elderly.
Jonathan Evans, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said attracting more trucks to the 60 will make it a less safe route. He said officials should instead encourages trucks to use the 10, because it is less winding and steep, and has more capacity.
Deputy Executive Director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission John Standiford said the project has been a priority for more than a decade and before the World Logistics Center was proposed