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Countywide : Trucks Dump Extra Load on Freeways

Don’t be surprised if today’s commute along the Costa Mesa and San Diego freeways is heavier than normal.

For the next eight weeks, trucks carrying hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of dirt will make 700 daily trips between two construction projects in the already congested area during peak traffic hours.

A construction company had first hoped to avoid rush hour by doing most of its hauling at night, but officials at the Tustin Marine Corps Helicopter Air Station refused to allow the company to work after 11 p.m., forcing the contractor complete the job during the day.

E.L. Yeager Construction of Tustin is in the process of excavating 800,000 cubic yards of dirt from the site of the Costa Mesa Freeway extension in Costa Mesa. Most of that dirt is being taken about six miles north to Tustin, where the company is building an extension to Jamboree Road between Barranca Parkway and Edinger Avenue, according to Kyrk Reid, Yeager’s area manager.

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The Jamboree Road extension runs through the air station and is only 1,500 feet from housing quarters.

Base commanders could not be reached for comment, but Irvine and Tustin city officials said the Marines were concerned about the noise of nighttime construction. Construction was halted at 11 p.m. because that is the time helicopters on the base stop operating.

For the last month, Yeager construction employees stopped work at the Jamboree site at 11 p.m. but had hoped that working hours would eventually be extended into the early morning, Reid said.

Now, he said, hauling the dirt will be extended in the morning rush hours.

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“We’re sympathetic to having the trucks off the road during the day, but (the Marines) have their own people to worry about too,” said Sam Johnson, the city of Tustin’s projects manager. “It’s sort of like being caught between a rock and a hard place. . . . You can see both sides.”

Johnson and Russ Thiele, Irvine’s projects manager, said that having the construction done at night would be desirable but both cities agreed to go along with the decision to halt work at 11 p.m.

Reid said he could understand the air station’s position but was disappointed that nothing could be done to keep the trucks off the road during peak traffic hours.

“With the congestion and the certain dangers involved, we hoped to move the materials when they would have the least impact on the public,” Reid said. “We hoped something could have been worked out.”

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