Talks Begin on Truck Checkpoint

Negotiations have begun between Union Pacific Railroad and the Department of Transportation over a small parcel Caltrans needs to complete a truck-inspection station along California 118.

Caltrans approved a California Highway Patrol "mini-site" west of Moorpark more than a year ago. The site would allow officers to inspect trucks moving east through the city.

Since the project is slated to be built on property owned by Union Pacific, Caltrans officials must obtain an easement or buy the lot outright before they can proceed.

Union Pacific spokesman Mike Furtney said the railroad tendered its first offer to Caltrans more than a week ago, beginning discussions between the two agencies over the half-acre lot.

"We have sent a draft letter of understanding to Caltrans what we think is the right price on this property," Furtney said. "We haven't suggested [the asking price] in public because we want to get their [Caltrans] reaction, obviously, but it was described to me as being in the market there."

Furtney said he does not know when Caltrans will reply, but said he doesn't expect the department to dawdle during this phase of negotiations.

Caltrans officials did not return phone calls for comment.

Although the site probably would not lead to a reduction in truck traffic along Los Angeles Avenue--a prospect that would thrill local residents--it would protect area drivers by ensuring that the 4,000 trucks that pass through Moorpark each day are in perfect working order, Lt. Terry Enright of the CHP said.

"What the facility allows us to do is ensure the mechanical safety. It's not going to diminish the volume of trucks," Enright said earlier this month. "It further ensures the safety of motorists within the city."

The lack of progress Caltrans and Union Pacific have made in getting the project off the ground has frustrated local officials, particularly Ventura County Supervisor Judy Mikels, who has pushed both sides to reach a quick agreement.

"What's frustrating is this is a project approved already by Caltrans," said Keith Jajko, Mikels' senior administrative aide. "This piece of land is the only issue involved, and it doesn't appear to serve any function in terms of the railroad, except for maybe storage."

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