Supervisors approve letter in support of universal speed limit on stretch of Highway 395

The Lassen County Board of Supervisors opted to send a letter in support of a universal speed limit on Highway 395.

In a letter unanimously approved by the board Tuesday, the supervisors reached out to Dave Moore, Caltrans District 2 Director.

“On behalf of the Lassen County Board of Supervisors, I write to urge Caltrans to support any legislative or regulatory changes to adopt a universal speed limit of 65 miles per hour for both heavy trucks and passenger vehicles along the section of US highway 395 from Hallelujah Junction to the State Route 36 junction in Lassen County,” began the letter.

“Along this section of highway, the State of California restricts the maximum speed of heavy trucks to 55 miles per hour and 65 miles per hour for passenger vehicles. This differential speed limit is resulting in traffic backups behind heavy trucks, increasing demand for passing toward oncoming traffic, and consequently drivers dangerously violating passing laws.

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“The Lassen County Transportation Commission recently received a presentation titled Safety Evaluation of Current Conditions and Future Expansion of that segment US Highway 395 in Lassen County by Sacramento State University. This report provided historical and current traffic volume data, heavy vehicle data, and crash data.

“As you will certainly recall in 2017, Caltrans District 2 issued a Transportation Concept Report for this section of highway. Subsequently on March 27, 2020, Caltrans’ Division of Research, Innovation and System Information published a report titled Differential Truck Speed Limit on Rural Two-Lane Highways: Survey of Practice.

“Both documents report the community’s concern about the negative impact and safety issues resulting from the State of California’s policy of differential speed limits for trucks vs passenger vehicles.

“The Lassen County Board of Supervisors opposes having differential speed limits in Lassen County. California has the lowest maximum speed limit for heavy trucks 55 mph, while neighboring states of Oregon, Nevada and Arizona have maximum speed limits of 65 mph, 80 mph, and 75 mph, respectfully.

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“The board supports any legislative or regulatory effort that Caltrans’ District 2 can initiate toward implementing an interim or permanent universal speed limit of at least 65 mph along this section of roadway.”

There was some discussion during the meeting regarding changes and improving the consistency. Overall, the board voted to send off the letter.