Many trucking issues addressed in California Freight Mobility Plan
Big changes in trucking may be on the horizon, according to recommended plans.
Like most states, California has released a freight mobility plan that addresses short- and long-term policies, strategies and investments that affect the movement of freight. Truck parking, truck-only lanes, tolling and autonomous vehicles were all mentioned in the plan.
On July 20, Caltrans published more than 300 pages outlining a plan for its freight system. A lot of space was dedicated to trucking, as trucks carry more freight in both value and weight than any other single mode in the state.
This section aims to maintain, enhance and modernize the multimodal freight transportation system by improving network efficiency and travel time reliability and by reducing congestion. Addressing bottlenecks is one key objective.
The plan calls for a feasibility study for dedicated truck lanes. This also included a possible truck-only toll or truck bypass lanes. If California decides to use a toll, it would use the money for infrastructure facilities and mass transit systems. Rhode Island has a similar toll, which is being challenged in federal court.
The California Freight Mobility Plan also calls for a feasibility study for a variable tolling pilot project for both passenger vehicles and trucks.
Caltrans suggests evaluating the existing Intelligent Transportation Systems. It wants to target truck data such as trips and parking. Along those lines, the agency wants to expand freight travel information availability.
Truck platooning also is addressed. Potential pilot projects for truck platoons are seen “as a potential part of a future solution,” according to the plan. The pilot program would take place in rural and urban corridors.
This goal is defined as enhancing “community health and well-being by mitigating the negative impacts of the goods movement system across California’s communities.”
One way truckers could be affected by this is losing certain routes. The plan suggests diverting truck traffic from heavily used routes to alternative routes that are further removed from residential neighborhoods. This may include requiring cleaner trucks in certain areas.
Safety and resiliency
The goal is to “reduce freight-related deaths/injuries and improve system resilience by addressing infrastructure vulnerabilities associated with security threats, effects of climate change impacts, and natural disasters.”
Again, truck parking is addressed here. However, this time truck parking is the main focus. Rather than call for more studies, Caltrans wants to execute the recommendation from the 2020-21 California Truck Parking Study and expand existing public- and private-sector truck parking facilities. The study also called for creating new ones. To enhance safety, the state also would place cameras and other technologies in truck parking areas.
Technology making trucking decisions easier is also included. Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure tech will give truckers advanced information on congestion, safety hazards, and traffic information (i.e., red light count down, speed limits, etc.).
Other California Freight Mobility Plan objectives
Nearly everything contained within the freight plan has some effect on the trucking industry. Most freight shipments arrive on a truck, even if the original mode was through air, vessel or rail. Anything that directly affects those modes has the potential for a trickle-down effect on trucking.
California is trying to reduce trucking costs by addressing the following, either directly or indirectly:
- Increasing capacity efficiency on state highways and local roads to reduce congestion.
- Deploying technologies to reduce congestion and trucking costs.
- Providing greater financial assistance to ease emissions limits, clean truck requirements, and clean fuel taxes.
- Reducing truck driver time spent at marine terminals and other freight facilities.
- Improving truck driver training to increase the supply of drivers.
- Increasing the supply of truck parking in public locations. LL