Partial Truck Ban Suggested During Work on Ventura Freeway

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Councilmen Zev Yaroslavsky and Michael Woo said Saturday they will propose that a task force investigate whether trucks should be banned from the Ventura Freeway during rush hours while the freeway is being resurfaced and widened.

The four-year freeway renovation is scheduled to start in December.

"The freeway is going to be congested beyond belief during this time, and something has to be done," Yaroslavsky said. "We can't keep complaining. Something has to be done, and someone will have to bear the burdens. The consumers have taken the burden up to now, and the truckers should take some now."

Yaroslavsky suggested that trucks be diverted to surface streets or that truck drivers alter their schedules so that deliveries are made before or after rush hours.

The truck ban would be a pilot program that could be instituted in other parts of Southern California if successful on the Ventura Freeway, Yaroslavsky said. The Ventura, which carries about 270,000 cars daily, is considered the nation's busiest freeway.

Plan Called 'Inefficient'

A spokesman for the California Trucking Assn., which represents about 2,500 freight haulers with about 35,000 vehicles operating daily in the Los Angeles area, called the councilmen's proposal "ineffective, inefficient and expensive."

George Smith, a director of the association and president of a trucking firm in Santa Maria, said the statewide trucking organization would oppose the ban.

"This will not only inconvenience the truckers, but the users of trucking services," Smith said. "It will drive up the cost of transportation, and that added cost will trickle down to the public."

Yaroslavsky said the proposal is similar to a program during the 1984 Olympic Games when several trucking companies voluntarily changed the schedules and routes of their trucks to off-peak hours. Truck accidents decreased 58% during the two-week period, he said.

Trucking accidents can produce delays of two to four hours on the freeway, Yaroslavsky said. "But, if a semi overturns on the Ventura Freeway and spills a load of oranges, and there's a construction project going on, you can kiss that freeway goodby for the day," he said.

"We have to do something, and this is the realistic way to go," Woo said.

The councilmen made the announcement as they stood on the Universal City overpass of the Hollywood Freeway during a morning press conference. As they talked, trucks zoomed below them on the freeway.

Yaroslavsky and Woo, chairman of the council's Transportation and Traffic Committee, said they will move at Tuesday's City Council meeting that a task force be formed.

The motion will ask that the city Department of Transportation coordinate the task force, which would have representatives from the state Department of Transportation, the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, the California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles Police Department.

The motion will stipulate that the city Department of Transportation report back to the council's transportation committee within 30 days.

Yaroslavsky expected the trucking industry to oppose the proposal, but said he would ask for its participation and cooperation with the task force.

He said officials and engineers of Caltrans, which has jurisdiction over the freeway, were enthusiastic about the plan. "Caltrans is glad that the local leaders are taking initiative in this," he said. "They want to make the freeway work."

3-Phase Project

The widening is scheduled in three phases, and will include the addition of one lane in each direction of the freeway, which is part of U. S. Highway 101. The first phase is scheduled to begin in December between Encino and Calabasas. The other phases are to begin in 1988 and be completed in 1991, officials said.

Yaroslavsky called the Ventura "the worst freeway in the state, functionally. Under the best of circumstances, it's a mess. Under the worst of circumstances, people are going to be listening to a lot of news and music in their cars."

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