Caltrans, California’s Department of Transportation, recently released its Freight Mobility Plan detailing it’s short- and long-term policies, strategies, and investments. The main focus of the Freight Mobility Plan points to the trucking industry, including parking, truck-only lanes, tolling, and the rise of autonomous trucking.
The trucking industry fuels the state’s economy and is in the middle of a five-percent economic growth. Even with COVID-19 spreading throughout the United States this spring before heavily impacting California this summer in the pandemic’s second wave, the California trucking industry has been operating an increased capacity. If anything, truck drivers have had more opportunities to get on the road and deliver much-needed goods to grocery stores and healthcare organizations.
The California Freight Mobility Plan highlights seven main goals. They include:
- Economic prosperity
- Environmental stewardship
- Healthy communities
- Safety and resiliency
- Asset management
- Connectivity and accessibility
- Multimodal mobility
Let’s break down some of these goals for a better understanding of what Caltrans is trying to achieve.
Multimodal mobility focuses on maintaining, enhancing, and modernizing the multimodal freight transportation system by updating and improving network efficiency in the trucking industry. The plan calls for a study dedicated to truck-only lanes and includes a possible truck-only toll or truck bypass lanes.
If California chooses to use a truck-only toll lane, it will use the funds for infrastructure overhaul and mass transit systems.
Another target goal in the Freight Mobility Plan is to support strategies that minimize or mitigate environmental impacts from the trucking industry. The plan suggests a strong parking pricing program in denser areas to limit competition for curbside commercial freight parking. The goal highlights a reduction in truck vehicle miles traveled and emissions generated by looking for parking.
Safety & Resiliency
California’s highways and byways have been plagued with infrastructure issues for decades. From potholes to obstructions, the state’s roads are in significant need of repair as they have led to many trucking accidents and safety concerns. In the past decade, California has averaged more than 250 truck accident fatalities per year, underscored by the fact that the national average has continued to increase year over year.
While this has put a new emphasis on the need for trucking companies to invest in comprehensive Trucking insurance, it also points out the need for better roads and better safety measures, including parking.
Again, truck parking is addressed in this section. Rather than call out the need for more studies, Caltrans wants to execute the recommendation from the state’s 2020-2021 Parking Study and expand existing parking facilities solely meant for trucking.
Keeping Healthy Communities in Mind
The Freight Mobility Plan also looks at enhancing the overall health of the communities the trucking industry is most engaged in. The goal is defined as improving community health and well-being by reducing the negative impacts of the freight and supply chain movement across the state’s highways and surrounding communities.
One way this may end up affecting truck drivers is by losing specific routes. The plan suggests diverting trucking traffic from heavily used routes to alternative ones that are further removed from neighborhoods.
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