Heavy Trucks and Roads: Not a Good Combination

Today, I heard a City of Morro Bay official describe the approval process for allowing huge (40 ton) construction trucks to utilize a badly deteriorating Morro Bay residential street for purposes of a private developer.
Basically, there is no approval process. It’s just a rubber-stamp. As long as the vehicle meets weight standards for highways (80,000 lbs), it’s A-OK to make several trips a day on an already broken city street. The only caveat was that the City would make a video tape before and after the project to document any visible damage and the developer would be responsible to fix it.

But Mr. City Engineer, it’s not that simple! Damage to our streets is cumulative and it may not show up until after the developer is long gone, leaving the taxpayer to foot the bill.

It quite obvious how much damage heavy trucks cause to our major highways, let alone a tiny Morro Bay street. But a bit of research turns up some staggering facts:

A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) determined that the road damage caused by a single 18-wheeler was equivalent to the damage caused by 9,600 cars. (GAO: Excessive Truck Weight: An Expensive Burden We Can No Longer Afford) The study seems to have based its calculations around the number of axles per vehicle. The study found that essentially, road damage was related to the 4th power of the relative loads. That means that if one vehicle carries a load of 1,500 pounds per axle and another carries a load of 3,000 pounds on each axle, the road damage caused by the heavier vehicle is not twice as much, but 2 to the 4th power as much (2x2x2x2 = 16 times as much road damage as the lighter vehicle).

This writer’s opinion: If we are to allow private developers to use and/or abuse our infrastructure, those developers should assume the risk and foot the bill. The City of Morro Bay can’t afford to fix its streets under normal conditions, let alone with the burden of 80,000 lb loads. Furthermore, road damage is just one of many other possible infrastructure risks that we are taking on. It is my understanding that the developers are taking the position that once they receive the “OK” from the City, they aren’t responsible for anything beyond the obvious/superficial damage as documented by the before and after video.

Yes, City officials are likely excited about possible future development revenues from the jet fuel tank site, but they also have a responsibly to protect citizens from a possible fiscal disaster if this project goes wrong.

Morro Bay Stakeholders aren’t against development. But we do want City Hall to exercise utmost caution and professionalism. Because we simply can’t afford errors of this scale.

Concerned Resident 195

Carole Truesdale - October 18, 2016

I agree with this analysis. Current State regulations require a Contractor License Bond for $12,500 (it was recently increases); I am asking the Planning Commission to look into having the City of Morro Bay request and/or:
Performance Bond – performance bonds guarantee that contractors complete projects according to contractural terms. If a contractor fails to do so, the project developer can make a claim on the bond to access the funds that can be used to pay a second contractor to finish the job.
Payment Bond – payment bonds guarantee proper payment for services in case lead contractors go bankrupt when working on projects. The bond amount can be used to reimburse suppliers, subcontractors and others who worked on a project if the lead contractor is unable to pay them for their work.
Note: The Federal Miller Act requires that performance bonds and payment bonds be used on all federally-funded projects worth $100K or more. In fact, both Performance and Payment bonds are frequently issued at the same time.

I feel this contractor needs to post a Bond for $100K to protect the further decay of our streets, habitat and protect Morro Bsy’s precious land.

Concerned Resident 195 - October 18, 2016

Agreed. IMHO we should consider requiring a number higher than $100K. I’m guessing a single damaged sewer line could easily exceed that figure. And 100K would likely not go very far toward making road repairs.

Jack Smith - October 18, 2016

If damage to the streets is cumulative should we also require the garbage company and any other companies that operate heavy vehicles on our streets to post “bonds” as well? (maybe they already do)

How many years have garbage trucks been using and damaging our streets? We actually pay the garbage company to damage our streets. Yes, I’m aware that the garbage trucks weigh less than the trucks that will be used on this project…

Does the Federal Miller Act apply to this project? I was under the impression that a private company was funding this project.

    Concerned Resident 195 - October 18, 2016

    Well, garbage trucks are on the streets at our request and on our behalf. The damage they create could be considered normal wear and tear. On the other hand, developers are using the streets for their own profit motive. I think that’s an important difference.

      Jack Smith - October 18, 2016

      Garbage companies are “for profit” companies. Every company that delivers or picks up from a business or residence in Morro Bay are using the streets for their own profit.
      Let’s use Morro Bay’s incorporation as a city in 1964 as a stepping off point, a little over 50 years ago. I would venture a guess that hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage has been done to city streets by garbage trucks as well as other heavy delivery/pickup vehicles.

Concerned Resident 195 - October 18, 2016

This is a completely tangential point. I won’t comment on its merit. However, at issue is proposed development that would introduce new traffic related specifically to the Jet Fuel Site. That’s what this website is about. If you have relevant comments, they will be included here.

Jack Smith - October 18, 2016

I fully understand what this website is about, and my comments were related to the truck traffic that will be present during the span of the demolition project.

Diane - October 19, 2016

The City of Morro Bay should have been taking care of our streets all along.
I don’t like the idea of homes taking over the hills of Morro Bay. Also where is all this water is coming from? It’s all so ridiculous and sad, but that’s what our City officials want apparently.

Lynda Merril - October 19, 2016

Del Mar School is at Sequoia one block from the San Jacinto intersection. Every family with children living anywhere to the South of the City and across the Freeway 1, must go through this intersection several times a day.
We can not allow huge dump trucks to drive through this intersection.
Lynda Merrill
391 Sequoia Street

    Concerned Resident 195 - October 19, 2016

    The currently proposed route will avoid the intersection of Sequoia or San Jacinto and Main. However trucks will be routed through Yerba Buena, Main and into the project via other very small streets.

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