Recommendations tackle safety, traffic circulation, accessibility, potential health impacts on the community
The San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) just released a study mapping truck routes in the county and developing early recommendations to close gaps and improve infrastructure to support economic development by moving goods more safely and efficiently.
SJCOG’s STAA Truck Route Study outlines how truck routes established by the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA) of 1982 allow haulers to use longer, wider trucks than normal to move goods to and from the National Highway Network, a web of interstate and state highways throughout the country. The longer trucks, which require a specific infrastructure, are essential for San Joaquin County because of the substantial growth here in the past decade in e-commerce, warehousing, distribution, and other related businesses.
As the geographic center of the Northern California Megaregion, San Joaquin County is uniquely positioned due to Interstates 5, 205 and 580, State Routes 99, 120, 12 and 4, and major rail lines owned by Union Pacific and BNSF Railway. The county is also home to the Port of Stockton and Stockton Metropolitan Airport.
SJCOG’s study found STAA route designation in California has not kept pace with the type of economic development that has happened in San Joaquin County. Since local governments are responsible for designating local STAA routes in their respective jurisdictions, SJCOG partnered with local agency public works departments to identify gaps in the routes to be closed.
“I’m excited that we’ve completed the truck route study, which took the route maps from each city and the county and sewed them together into a regional interconnected map,” San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and SJCOG Board Chair Robert Rickman said. “It’s especially noteworthy that this truck route study was shaped by the experiences of local residents and partners, local police, and the CHP. That local feedback provided valuable insight on the travel patterns of trucks on a day-to-day basis.”
SJCOG’s collaboration with local jurisdictions helped to develop possible strategies to strengthen connections in the STAA truck routes. If SJCOG and its partners are able to get funding for these strategies, they will help ease traffic congestion, lessen noise in some neighborhoods, reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality, and enhance traffic safety. The improvements could be as simple as posting additional signage along STAA truck routes or be more involve such as construction work to upgrade roadways to qualify for STAA truck route consideration by the state.
“For the first time through this study, we were able to map gaps in the STAA routes throughout the county and come up with possible solutions that will keep goods moving safely and efficiently in the future,” SJCOG Executive Director Diane Nguyen said. “A growing part of the county’s economy is e-commerce, warehousing, and related businesses. The study is a step in supporting continued economic development and vitality in this region.”
If recommendations from the study lead to funded strategies, they could ease concerns in some neighborhoods of heavy truck traffic on local streets, trucks parking in unauthorized areas, noise, and truck emissions. Truckers, on the other hand, face challenges finding safe places for parking, staging and queuing. The study was built on the feedback that poor signage and access to STAA routes in some areas may result in truckers being at risk of code violations or loss of time and efficiency.
The study also found that many shippers, receivers, and developers were unaware of the STAA routes, so improving signage, updating STAA route maps, and general promotion will help to keep trucks on appropriate routes.