On August 5th, the City of Tehachapi took the role as lead agency as a member of the Kern Council of Governments, for a grant application to potentially fund the environmental studies for truck climbing lanes on eastbound Highway 58. While not in the City limits, the health and well-being of all residents in the City of Tehachapi and the Greater Tehachapi Area is being affected by increased commercial truck traffic, safety concerns and hazards caused by a two-lane highway climbing a steep grade. For that reason the City stepped in as lead agency for this first grant and if awarded will forward funding to Kern COG or CalTrans for the necessary studies. The Tehachapi City Council unanimously approved this application.
The need for truck climbing lanes on the busiest commercial corridor in the state is gaining momentum at both the State and Federal levels. The impact to economies of several cities and regions is tied to Highway 58 and the goods and services that travel that route on a daily basis, many ultimately connecting to Interstate 40 for travel across the United States. Locally, a large portion of the Tehachapi work force travels that route to Bakersfield for employment.
While this grant has already been submitted, it has been suggested that local government agencies and residents write letters in support of this project to Governor Gavin Newsom and Caltrans director Bob Franzoia in Sacramento so the need for this project can be fully addressed by those effected most. The Bear Valley Community Service District and Golden Hills Community Service District are discussing this at their next scheduled meeting, meanwhile State Senator Shannon Grove and Assemblyman Vince Fong have both written and had meetings regarding this project.
Below is a request from Tehachapi City Manager Greg Garrett detailing this potential project and how you can write the decision makers regarding truck climbing lanes on Highway 58.
Dear Community Members,
As you are aware, the City of Tehachapi has voluntarily taken on the role of lead agency in the application for a Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality grant, which if awarded, would be applied to the environmental studies to help determine the best route for truck climbing lanes on eastbound highway 58.
We believe this grant and project is extremely important for the health and safety of the residents in the Greater Tehachapi Area. Although this isn’t a project inside the city limits, the grant application required a member agency of the Kern Council of Governments to take the lead. Given our involvement in Kern COG with Councilmember Phil Smith serving on the board, we felt the City of Tehachapi was prepared to submit this application.
Should this funding be awarded, we would then send the money to the Kern Council of Governments or Cal Trans for the completion of the study and environmental work necessary to initiate the truck climbing lane proposal and hopefully make this long-awaited project a reality.
We are asking the residents of the City of Tehachapi and the Greater Tehachapi area to send letters of support for this project to the office of Governor Gavin Newsom and Cal Trans Acting Director Bob Franzoia expressing the importance of prioritizing this project. While it will not sway the decision makers in regards to this cycle of grant funding, we believe it will continue to stress the safety and economic importance of this project.
When writing, please cite the following;
- Highway 58 experiences some of the highest commercial truck volume in the state with more trucks on 58 than Interstate 80.
- Truck traffic accounts for over 30% of the vehicular traffic on this route. This volume of trucks creates frequent slow-downs and increases driving hazards for both trucks and automobiles.
- 60% of the active workforce in Tehachapi commutes with 70% of that traffic commuting into the Bakersfield area via Highway 58.
- Cal Trans standard policy does not allow lane control against trucks using both lanes on a 2-lane highway. As such, automobile drivers regularly experience extensive delays associated with trucks passing on eastbound 58.
- Trucks in both lanes also result in frequent accidents and incidents of road rage making the route more dangerous.
- Major circulation improvements on Highway 58 in Bakersfield and near Kramer Junction (58 & 395) are under construction and promise to balloon truck volumes within the next 2-6 years. These improvements are likely to significantly exacerbate congestion and safety concerns that exist today.
We believe that as group of citizens working together we can prove the importance of this project for all residents in Tehachapi.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
City of Tehachapi
Please send correspondence to the following addresses:
Caltrans Governor Gavin Newsom
Att: Toks Omishakin 1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
1120 N. Street Sacramento, CA 95814
Sacramento, CA 95814