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    Why do trucks take lanes through former toll-booth areas?
    • October 13, 2023

    Q. Why is there a separate lane for trucks and vehicles with trailers that goes through the old toll booth areas at the northern part of the 241 Toll Road? Vehicles pulling trailers routinely instead use the regular three left-hand lanes. This is the only point on the 241 tollway that requires this special treatment. Northbound traffic in the afternoon becomes totally grid-locked, so any truck wanting to go westbound on the 91 Freeway has to really fight to get over to the far-left lanes after clearing the former toll areas.

    – Mark Speros, San Juan Capistrano

    A. Caltrans wanted truck-climbing lanes out there on steep slopes “to allow trucks and other slower vehicles to stay to the right of main traffic,” said Michele Miller, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which manages the 241, 73, 261 and 133 toll roads. These stretches met Caltrans’ criteria for such lanes.

    In 2014, when those toll roads stopped collecting cash and went to all-electronic tolling, the toll plazas were reconfigured and the signs changed to direct trucks and cars with trailers through those areas to separate them for a bit from the rest of traffic to improve the flow. The climbing lanes had been there before, but were modified.

    The 241 has climbing lanes in both directions at what is called the Windy Ridge Toll Point. On the 73, there is a similar setup at the Catalina View Toll Point.

    The California Highway Patrol is to enforce the laws on these tollways, including ensuring that trucks and trailers take their special lanes.

    “We do have details who work specifically on the 241,” said Sergio Rivera, a spokesman and officer for the California Highway Patrol.

    But, he added, an officer needs to be out there during the violation, and might choose to go after a bigger problem instead – say an excessive speeder.

    Now, as to whether there is enough time on the northbound 241 at the Windy Ridge Toll Point for truckers to get into a left lane, Miller said in an email:

    “The roadway design allows for sufficient distance of over one mile to access the lanes that merge onto westbound 91. The Transportation Corridor Agencies … installed signage and pavement markings to provide advanced notice to motorists who want to access the westbound or eastbound lanes to the 91.”

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    Q. Hi Honk: Now that we are seeing gas prices spike and hear refinery problems are part of the problem, do you know why we don’t build more refineries in this country? Sure would alleviate a large part of the problem.

    – Bob King, Huntington Beach

    A. It seems building a significant one, at least here in the states, would face more hurdles than Edwin Moses ever did, Bob.

    A story earlier this year in Barron’s cited such woes as securing the needed permits and the amount of money and time it takes to build one. Forbes, in an article from last year, added other obstacles: climate change concerns and society’s resistance to promote fossil fuels.

    Chevron CEO Mike Wirth, Fox Business reported, said last year he didn’t believe the U.S. would produce another new refinery because of the federal government’s stance: “At every level of the system, the policy of our government is to reduce demand, and so it’s very hard in a business where investments have a payout period of a decade or more.”

    There are, though, new refineries in Nigeria and Mexico.

    HONKIN’ FACT: The 1953 double-decker bus Paul and Linda McCartney bought in 1972 for a Wings tour that year will be on the auction block in mid-November. Painted in psychedelic colors, it offered a playpen, mattresses and beanbags on the top deck for the bandmates and their families while enjoying the sunshine. The bus logged more than 7,500 miles in ’72 for a European tour. It is forecast to be sold for $200,000 to $300,000. (Source: Julien’s Auctions.)

    To ask Honk questions, reach him at [email protected]. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

    ​ Orange County Register