Los Angeles City Councilmen Zev Yaroslavsky and Michael Woo on Saturday suggested that trucks be banned from the Ventura Freeway during morning and evening rush hours while the freeway undergoes a four-year widening and resurfacing project starting 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."
The councilmen will ask that a special task force study the truck ban and report back within a month. Yaroslavsky suggested that trucks be diverted to surface streets, or that truck drivers alter their schedules so deliveries come before or after rush hours. The truck ban would be a pilot program that could be tried elsewhere in Southern California if successful, Yaroslavsky added.
He likened the proposal to a program during the 1984 Summer Olympic Games when several trucking companies voluntarily changed the schedules and routes of their trucks at 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," he said, "you can kiss that freeway goodby for the day."
'Realistic Way to Go'
"We have to do something, and this is the realistic way to go," said Woo, chairman of the council's Transportation and Traffic Committee.
The Ventura Freeway, with 270,000 vehicles daily, is the nation's busiest freeway. The widening project is scheduled in three phases, and will include the addition of one new lane in each direction of the freeway, which is part of U.S 101. The first phase is scheduled to begin in December between Encino and Calabasas. The other phases are slated to begin in 1988 and be completed in 1991, officials said.
George Smith, a director of the California Trucking Assn., which represents about 2,500 freight haulers who have about 35,000 vehicles on Los Angeles-area roads every day, called the proposal "ineffective, inefficient and expensive."
"This will not only inconvenience the truckers, but the users of trucking services," said Smith, who is president of his own trucking company in Santa Maria. "It will drive up the cost of transportation, and that added cost will trickle down to the public."
Smith added that trucks taking surface streets would add to pollution and congestion on those streets, "and it would take more trucks to do the same job."
The councilmen made the announcement at a morning press conference as they stood on the Universal Center overpass of the Hollywood Freeway, with trucks zooming by. They said they will introduce a motion for the formation of the task force at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
They will ask that the city's Department of Transportation coordinate the task force, which would be made up of representatives from the state Department of Transportation, Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, the California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles Police Department. The motion will ask that the city Transportation Department report back to the council committee within 30 days.
Yaroslavsky said he expected the trucking industry to oppose the proposal, but would ask for their participation in the task force.
He said officials 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."