Part one of our two-part series on trucking in Moorpark appeared in the July 5, 2007, edition of the VC Reporter.

Policy-makers at the local, county and state level are looking at ways to limit commercial vehicles’ impact on Moorpark’s downtown business district. Residents complain that tractor-trailers and other large trucks overwhelm the corridor. Now, the same residents are blaming Moorpark city officials for failing to control a situation the city has little jurisdiction over.

Moorpark Mayor Patrick Hunter said he is often the target of unhappy drivers but that he is unable to make any significant changes.

“Particularly frustrating to me is that Los Angeles Avenue, Highway 118, is a state highway much like the Ventura Freeway,” he said. “It is run and owned by Caltrans and Caltrans controls every facet of the operation of the highway, yet it runs right through the heart of our community. Local officials are held responsible for traffic on [Highway] 118, yet they lack the authority to make any kind of meaningful change.”

California Assembly member Audra Strickland (R-37th District) has introduced a bill which would start the process of creating a permanent truck inspection station in Moorpark.

“AB1140 would require an analysis of the best location and size of an inspection station,” said Joel Angeles, Strickland’s chief of staff.

The bill has had a bumpy road on its way through the legislative process. Originally in 2006, Strickland introduced Assembly Bill 2661, which would have required that a permanent inspection station be established.

“That bill did not even go up for a committee vote,” Angeles said. “Mrs. Strickland cancelled the hearing so as to amend the bill.”

Angeles said the nature of the bill was changed to first provide a report on the parameters of the new station. The bill passed unanimously, and a report was scheduled to be completed by July 1, 2008, by the California Highway Patrol.

However, on July 3, AB 1140 was amended by Strickland to include language in the Department of Transportation’s Streets and Highways code calling for a study into the possibility of a commercial vehicle inspection facility. The next committee was scheduled for July 10, after this story’s deadline.

On the county level, Supervisor Peter Foy has formed a task force dedicated to making Highway 118 safer for motorists. The task force, however, is primarily focused on the deadly stretch of Highway 118 just west of the Moorpark city limits. The supervisor’s chief of staff, Mark Lunn, said safety improvements may bring some unwanted results.

“There’s a yin and yang that comes with this.” Lunn said. “If you legitimize the road then you almost encourage additional use of that road. But, if we can impact it safety-wise, then I think we do what government should be doing, which is keeping people safe.”

Another possible solution discussed by Moorpark officials would be to build a bypass for trucks north of Moorpark. Hunter said the bypass would run in a straight line from where Highway 118 curves to connect with state Route 23. It would run north of Moorpark to the city’s western limits, keeping the trucks out of the business district.

Hunter said developers who are considering building inside the city limits are currently required to donate right of way to the city for the bypass. But Hunter said it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. He said a less expensive solution would be for the trucks to travel on alternative county highways.

“There are a limited number of east-west roadways, the 101, the 126, and the 118,” he said. “I think the state is concerned about eliminating traffic from the 118 and placing that traffic on the 101 and the 126.”

But although those highways were built to accommodate truck traffic, trucks are still entitled to use 118, and Hunter doesn’t believe they can just be banned from the roadway.

“I think residents understand that everybody in the city wants to do something about the 118,” he said. “I have absolutely no authority over speed limits on Los Angeles Avenue. Our ability to do anything is limited to writing letters and expressing our concern or dissatisfaction.”