Readers React

Truck operators should pay for the road damage they cause

To the editor: Our roads are in dire shape and need repair, but splitting the cost between all drivers or assessing a mileage fee is unfair. ("Whatever road is taken for highway funds, there's a need for speed," Feb. 11)

The fact is, roads are damaged by heavier vehicles more than light vehicles. The federal government has estimated that a 40-ton, 18-wheel truck causes the same damage as 9,600 midsize cars.

In Santa Barbara, about 60,000 drivers travel daily on the 101 Freeway. The few thousand large trucks that use the freeway per day cause the same damage as millions of cars. The additional registration fees that truck operators pay to the state don't come close to paying for the damage they inflict on our roads.

You can see a practical demonstration of these principles on our highways, where the fast lanes on the left generally are much smoother than the lanes on the right used by truck traffic. California should assess trucking fees that pay for the damage they cause to our roads and stop making the rest of us driving lightweight vehicles subsidize the trucking industry.

Mark Bandurraga, Santa Barbara

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To the editor: While Skelton is outraged by the pathetic condition of our roads and highways, he doesn't seem to be bothered much by the cause of the problem, which he acknowledges is "Capitol politicians" raiding funds (originally set aside for repairs) for the general fund "back when they were using gimmicks to balance the budget."

The solution: Invent a new tax.

I have a better idea that would be great for the environment and would free us from dependence on petroleum: Don't fix the roads. Eventually, they will be so bad that people will voluntarily choose public transportation like the bullet train.

John Fessler, Chino Hills

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To the editor: Skelton talks about the state losing gas tax money on less use of petroleum in vehicles, thus deteriorating roads. He states that we have a $59-billion deficit on road and bridge repairs.

Surprise: Apparently, California has or will have plenty of money. The state plans to spend at least $68 billion on a useless high-speed rail system. This is more than enough to pay for the roads. It also seems that our illustrious legislators, by sleight of hand, removed trucking fees from road funds to pay for their pet projects.

By returning the trucking fees to their rightful place and using the$68 billion for rail on roads instead, it would seem we might just have enough to improve our roads.

Robert Braley, Bakersfield

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