State transportation planners want your ideas on how to move freight, including oil-by-rail, more effectively through California while keeping communities safe. A series of public workshops begins Tuesday.
A lot more crude oil imported into California from an oil boom in North Dakota will be arriving by trains. That worries Devora Ancel of the Sierra Club.
“Because it’s very volatile it can explode," says Ancel "and we’ve seen that in a number of railcar accidents, explosions that have devastated communities across our country.”
Bruce Deterra is with Caltrans: “So the movement of oil by train is of course a big issue that’s getting a lot of attention right now.”
Caltrans is developing what’s called the California Freight Mobility Plan and is asking for public ideas. Deterra points out that most rail regulation is up to the federal government which is currently working on new safety rules.
“So we’re really going to be more of a…representing the outcome of that rather than being in a leadership issue on the oil trains.”
Deterra says Caltrans’ goal with the Freight Mobility Plan is to keep the freight industry, including trucking, air cargo and seaports, competitive economically while reducing traffic congestion and pollution. He says trucking is a major part of the plan.
“Roadways such as Highway 99, Interstate 5, Interstate 580; they’re very busy with trucks. And so we’re looking for opportunities to make improvements that would help facilitate better truck access to reduce conflicts where we can.”
Deterra says that might include “truck specific” lanes.
Caltrans will hold eight public workshops through the end of July. The first meeting is in Sacramento on Tuesday, June from 4-7 p.m. at the California State Railroad Museum. A final plan is due by late October.