New ag station has a price tag of $19.6 million |

New ag station has a price tag of $19.6 million

A new $19.6 million agricultural inspection station under construction on Interstate 80 near the California Highway Patrol scales is expected to replace Truckee’s current station by December 2006.

A new station was needed because the old one slows traffic in Truckee, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. A new facility next to the CHP scales will also provide “one-stop shopping” for commercial vehicles headed into California, said Steve Lyle, spokesman for the department of food and agriculture.

“We’ve all worked over the years to identify a better location for an agricultural inspection station and we think we have that,” Lyle said.

The new facility will have seven vehicle lanes and total more than 15,000 square feet. Unlike the current station, the new project will be located off of the interstate, and vehicles will exit the interstate to be inspected.

The state agency is going ahead with the nearly $20 million project, which includes dismantling the current inspection structure, despite the fact that they have not had the funds to hire enough inspectors to check passenger vehicles at the current station for nearly two years.

And the department has no idea whether there will be enough funding in future budgets to resume checking passenger vehicles at the new station, although the facility is built to handle all types of traffic.

“We’re looking forward to a time when we will have the funding to again inspect passenger vehicles,” Lyle said.

The level of inspection at the new station will depend on future state budgets, Lyle said.

But A. G. Kawamura, secretary of the food and agriculture department, said inspection stations are becoming more important in an era of increased tourism and international trade. Keeping destructive insects and diseases out of the state has economic value in a state where agricultural production is estimated at more than $30 billion per year, officials said.

“There are things that want to eat us and eat our food supplies,” Kawamura said.

Truckee Mayor Craig Threshie heralded the project as a source of traffic relief in Truckee on the Interstate and on main town streets also.

“Our congestion in town as a result of the old agricultural inspection station is pretty significant,” Threshie said.

When the old station is dismantled it will free up local traffic to use the interstate without the delays at the inspection site and take pressure off of Donner Pass Road, he said.

“We’ll have the opportunity to use the interstate as more of an arterial,” Threshie said.

The department of food and agriculture expects to have the new facility functional by December 2006. The current inspection stalls would be dismantled after that, Lyle said.

The inspection location in Truckee is one of 16 border stations in California. The department of food and agriculture refers to these spots as the “first line of defense” against outside diseases and pests. Five are located on the Oregon border, five are on the Nevada border and five stand along the Arizona and Mexico border.

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