Caltrans Faces Inquiry on Truck Routing Errors

A state Senate committee will quiz Caltrans officials next month about routing mistakes that have sent oversized trucks under low overpasses, causing several accidents since June.

Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana), vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said that news accounts of errors by Caltrans workers who approved routing permits--including one that led to a fatal accident in Anaheim--have him concerned.

And news that growth in the number of permits has outstripped growth in Caltrans staff "has raised enough red flags that we felt a closer look is necessary," he said.

In a letter to state Department of Transportation Director Jose Medina, Dunn and Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Sen. Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach) have asked the agency to appear at a special hearing Aug. 17.

Dunn wrote earlier to transportation officials seeking information about permit procedures after a Westminster man was killed on July 16 near the intersection of the Riverside and Orange freeways in Anaheim.

Caltrans had approved a permit routing a 15-foot-high truck westbound on the Riverside Freeway under the 14-foot, 10-inch La Palma Avenue overpass. The truck's cargo--a 7,000-pound tank--was knocked off, crushing motorist Tam Trong Tran, 36.

News of two similar accidents in Shasta County since June prompted Dunn and Karnette to intensify the inquiry.

"As the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, it's my role to get answers from Caltrans on things that concern the state and the safety of the people of the state," Karnette said.

Caltrans spokesman Jim Drago said that although he had not heard of the expanded request, the agency was already compiling information in response to Dunn's initial letter and the agency's own internal review.

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