Board initiates ordinance limiting where trucks can travel

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The Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Dec. 17, directed the county Transportation and Land Management Agency to begin the process of drafting an ordinance that would prohibit big rigs from operating on some unincorporated county roads to reduce impacts on residential areas.

In a 5-0 vote without comment, the board backed the proposal, which Chairman Kevin Jeffries first broached in 2018, citing the need to restrict the movement of tractor-trailers to prevent them from exacerbating congestion and roadway surface damage in certain locations.

TLMA staff will spend the next several months researching what provisions to include in the proposed ordinance and determining how narrowly or broadly tailored it should be. No tentative future hearing dates were announced.

“Commercial vehicles tend to utilize county highways as cut-through routes in an attempt to avoid congestion on regional highways,” according to a TLMA statement posted to the board’s agenda.

According to the agency, the county has authority to impose restrictions based on the size and weight of vehicles “if (their) use is determined to adversely affect traffic circulation or safety.”

In 2018, the Riverside City Council implemented policies that prohibited all trucks with more than three axles from accessing segments of Alessandro and Sycamore Canyon boulevards, as well as Arlington, Central, Chicago, Iowa and Jurupa avenues.

The restrictions stemmed from residents’ complaints about noise and congestion. Commercial deliveries by 18-wheelers are still permitted on the streets, but drivers may have to present documents to police showing why they’re using them.

When Jeffries floated the idea of a similar set of restrictions, he specifically mentioned Cajalco Road and Van Buren Boulevard through Meadowbrook, Mead Valley, Lake Elsinore and Woodcrest.

The supervisor said big rig operators are notorious for using the county roads to avoid slow-moving traffic on Interstates 15 and 215 as they make their way to and from warehouses.

Jeffries also said that the city of Riverside’s prohibitions had increased 18-wheeler traffic on county byways.

No specific weight or size limits connected to the TLMA proposal have been submitted.

Because the state mandates that any disruption to “pass-through” traffic on county arteries must be offset by designated routes that are available to trucks, county officials said any future ordinance would have to include those accommodations.

Additionally, signs would have to be posted weeks in advance of the closures to give commercial truck operators sufficient notice about the changes.

Officials said that emergency vehicles, waste collection trucks and similar service vehicles would be exempt.