Task force to discuss truck route, barrier wall, brake-check area at Oct. 24 mee
Caltrans District 2 Director Brian Crane and representatives from the offices of State Senator Dave Cox and Assemblyman Richard Keene toured the area where the truck crashed on Sept. 11 into the back of the Nevada Arms Apartments. District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman, who represents Susanville, said the tour included the inside of Susanville City Councilmember Kurt Bonham’s apartment.
“We had them look down the hole into where the truck finally came to rest,” Chapman said. “It’s pretty dramatic when you see it from that perspective.”
They also toured the location of a proposed concrete barrier wall to be constructed on the curb between Main Street and the sidewalk heading to the theater from the upper parking lot. Its purpose was to prevent big rigs from crashing into the theater.
The city and the county put together the estimated $3,000 funding, design and plans for the wall and obtained the encroachment permits from Caltrans. Chapman said theater owner Mike Smith hasn’t built the wall.
After the task force approved the wall last year, Smith pledged $1,000 worth of materials and labor to build it. After the truck hit the apartments last month, Smith said he could not budget for building the wall because he would have to buy two forms that cost $5,000 apiece and could only be used once.
Chapman said he told Crane and the legislative representatives, “We’ve got to get this wall built.”
Saying he thought Caltrans might build the barrier, Chapman added, “It may not be the kind of wall the theater owner wants; it may not be the kind of wall the community wants, but we’ve got to do something. We don’t want anybody to get killed.”
The Task Force is scheduled to discuss formally request Caltrans take over the project and build barrier wall at the Uptown Theater when it meets at 7 p.m. on Wed, Oct. 24, in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at 707 Nevada St.
It also is scheduled to receive a report from Caltrans’ staff on the concept of a mandatory exit for east-bound truck traffic on Highway 36 west of Susanville.
The truck bypass would include a quarter-mile tie-in with the Old Paul Bunyan Road and its connection to Skyline Drive. The task force is set to review and discuss the design concept with Caltrans staff and consider the feasibility of the truck route as an alternative for further consideration.
It may modify or abandon the concept or consider recommending it to the Lassen County Transportation Commission, the Susanville City Council, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors and Caltrans.
“Mr. Crane is very intrigued by the option (of the truck bypass route)” Chapman said. “We’re talking about (building) less than a quarter of a mile (of new roadway), a 240-foot elevation decline … If there’s going to be a runaway truck, it can crash and burn in the (Susanville Ranch) park, where no one is living.”
Saying the bypass would have an impact on park users, Chapman said, “Being a strong user of the park myself, it would be a hard pill for me to swallow.”
He added the policy trade-off of giving up some park use to save someone’s life in Uptown Susanville.
“If I have to give up a little bit of my enjoyment of the park to make sure that somebody lives, then those are the kind of hard choices you have to make and I think the community is going to have to make the choice,” Chapman said.
A bypass in any other location would cost much more than $100 million, Chapman said. Because the bypass to Old Paul Bunyan Road involves such a short stretch of new road, Chapman said it might cost much less.
Chapman sits on the task force with Susanville Police Chief Jeff Atkinson, California Highway Patrol Commander Eric Liband, Caltrans representative Terry Chandler, Blake Hutala of the Historic Uptown Susanville Association, and public members Smith, Alice Dresel and Kenneth Kane.
The task force agenda also includes receiving a status report from Atkinson on the effectiveness of the speed signs on Town Hill and Caltrans installation of a platform scale at the top of the hill approaching the city from the west.
It will also consider requesting Caltrans conduct a project study report on the project. representatives of Senator Cox and Assemblyman Keene’s offices are expected to join a discussion of future funding possibilities for the estimated $4.7 million for the truck stop through legislative action. The task force agenda also includes discussion of future installation by Caltrans of a crosswalk at Roop and Main Streets.
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