Bug station opening delayed | SierraSun.com

Bug station opening delayed

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun A construction crew works on the new agricultural inspection station near Hirshdale scheduled to open in January.

Opening of the new agricultural inspection station has been delayed, and whether the new station will ever inspect private vehicles is still undecided.

Originally set to open Dec. 15, the new station will likely open in the beginning of January due to construction delays, said Jay Van Rein, information officer for the Department of Food and Agriculture.

Commercial vehicle inspection will be run out of a temporary trailer at the new site until then, he said.

The total cost of the project is $20.4 million, Van Rein said, up from the $19.6 million figure initially estimated.

“The discrepancy comes from two things ” the first came from Caltrans, who made changes to their requirements and signage, and the second came from the fire marshall requiring an additional tank during construction,” Van Rein said.

Once the Department of Food and Agriculture moves into the new office, both commercial and private vehicle traffic will be routed through the new station, but as in past years, private vehicles will not be inspected, Van Rein said.

A pilot project to study the importance of inspecting private vehicles has yielded some initial results, and may ultimately lead to full operations at the Truckee station in the future, he said.

The pilot project is comparing current figures for private-vehicle traffic at an inspection station in Needles, Calif., to figures from the same station in 2002.

Traffic through the test station has gone up 6 percent since 2002, he said, but prohibited materials called “rejected lots” have gone up by 34 percent during the same time period.

Of the 5,165 “rejected lots,” 809 were found to contain pests or diseases not native to California, Van Rein said.

“One thing we’ve noticed, not just in private vehicles, is there is a lot more travel from farther-away to California,” Van Rein said. “That may be producing the difference.”

While he said the increases in prohibited materials entering Needles were significant between 2002 and now, no conclusions have been reached.

One thing that won’t move to the new station is chain control and traffic-holding during winter storms, said Juanita Holley, communications center manager with Caltrans.

The new station wouldn’t catch traffic coming from Highway 89 north, Highway 89 south, or Highway 267, so it wouldn’t be as effective during a storm, she said.

“We won’t have the advantage of the bug station any more,” Holley said. “We could use the station to funnel folks in and take it down to one or two lanes. Now we will have to do it with cones.”

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