A bill allowing larger trucks through several bottlenecks in Hwy. 101 in Humboldt County was passed by a unanimous vote in the senate and will now go before the state assembly and then the governor. One of the points is the narrow passage between giant ancient Redwood trees in Richardson Grove State Park.
Caltrans has maintained that the Highway must be widened to allow the larger trucks through.
"While we respect those concerns we hope they come to realize that the road is actually wide enough to allow trucks with 48-foot trailers that have a kingpin to rear axle setting of 43 feet to pass safely through Richardson Grove
, allowing Humboldt County producers to ship their product to market in a safe and timely manner," said Jorie Brundy.
Brundy is the president of the Humboldt/Del Norte California Cattlemen's Association and Humboldts brand inspector for California Department of Food and Agriculture.Complete article from Capitol Press below.Legislation calls for longer trailers
Calif.’s North Coast seeks better access for livestock haulers
A bill allowing longer livestock trucks on portions of U.S. Highway 101 on California's North Coast is a little farther down the road toward being a law.
On May 24 California Senate Bill 773 - which proposes an exemption on Highway 101 for livestock haulers allowing semi-trailers that measure up to 43 feet from the kingpin to the rearmost axle of the semi-trailer, provided the semi-trailer does not exceed a total of 48 feet - was approved by a unanimous, bipartisan vote.
If passed by the state assembly and then signed by the governor, the bill will replace current law restricting trailers to 40 feet. SB773 was written by state Sen. Patricia Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa.
Proponents say current truck length restrictions put North Coast livestock producers at an economic disadvantage because the smaller, legal-length trucks are not readily available, are more expensive, and cattle have to be reloaded to standard-size trucks out of the area.
"This bill is important to local producers as it allows a larger pool of livestock haulers access to our county, keeping our costs down, our availability to a larger group of potential buyers up and our local operations healthy," said Jorie Brundy, Humboldt/Del Norte California Cattlemen's Association president and California Department of Food and Agriculture brand inspector for Humboldt County.
The California Highway Patrol and Cal Trans are understandably concerned about the safety of the longer trucks, Brundy said, but the livestock trucks have never had an accident.
"While we respect those concerns we hope they come to realize that the road is actually wide enough to allow trucks with 48-foot trailers that have a kingpin to rear axle setting of 43 feet to pass safely through Richardson Grove, allowing Humboldt County producers to ship their product to market in a safe and timely manner," Brundy wrote in an e-mail interview.
The Bayside-based Northcoast Regional Land Trust voted to officially support the bill because it supports ranching, farming and the economy in Humboldt County, executive director Jim Petruzzi said.
"To me it's another tool to keep the economy strong here, or stronger," Petruzzi said. "Our organization is all about conserving large landscapes, and farms and ranches are primarily what we work on."
Petruzzi said there are already exemptions for moving vans on portions of Highway 101, so the Northcoast Regional Land Trust questioned why the livestock industry was denied the same consideration especially because using smaller trucks is an economic hardship. "The big question was: 'Why not?'" Petruzzi said. "It just adds more cost for the local products here, and that makes them less competitive."
Also in support of SB773 is the California Chamber of Commerce, County of Mendocino, Fortuna Chamber of Commerce, Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and Mendocino County Cattlemen's Association.
In her testimony before the state Senate, Wiggins said SB773 is "severely needed to save the livestock industry throughout the North Coast," according to her press release.
"Most of the beef grown in my district is shipped out of state in trailers with a 43-foot kingpin," she said. "In fact over 90 percent of the trailers used for this industry have a kingpin of 43 feet. That is the standard for the industry across state lines and has been the standard for many decades."
Before 1999, the length restrictions on highways leading in and out of Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino Counties made the travel of most interstate trucks illegal. Legislation was passed in 1999 to provide an exemption period for livestock haulers to travel on portions of the highway and required the CHP to study its safety impacts.
Wiggins said several turns along three sections of Highway 101 at Richardson's Grove, Confusion Hill and Big Lagoon have been preventing the livestock industry's use of the longer trailers. She introduced the bill to allow longer trucks in these areas. Brundy said that, if passed, the SB773 exemption will sunset in 2012.