New ag station project lacking common sense
Last Thursday the California Department of Food and Agriculture, in concert with Caltrans, broke ground on the new agriculture inspection station – affectionately known to locals as the Bug Station.Yes, broke ground on a new bug station. It’s to be located off Interstate 80 near the California Highway Patrol weigh station, between the Hirschdale/Glenshire and Prosser Village exits. It will have seven vehicle lanes and total more than 15,000 square feet. The estimated cost for the project is $19.6 million.Meanwhile, the existing bug station stands neglected and virtually unmanned at the Donner State Park exit in Truckee. The station is not and has not been operational for nearly two years due to the state deficit-related cutbacks. While semi-trucks still halt at the existing facility, passenger cars drive through the station with only the slightest of deceleration. We recognize the value in the Department of Food and Agriculture’s mission to protect the consumers and producers of California’s $30 billion agricultural industry from nefarious pests and infection.At the same time we question the logic in spending nearly $20 million to build this new inspection station. So with the existing site eight miles down the road, the operation working at a minimum and California still facing a monster of a deficit, we’re wondering two things: Where does the money comes from for the construction? And where will the estimated $11 million come from for the operation of the new station when we don’t have the money to inspect passenger cars at the station we have now?The removal of the existing station has one redeeming quality in our eyes – and it seems in the eyes of our local officials: It will eliminate the miles of backed up traffic on peak holiday weekends. This would certainly be welcome, but that isn’t enough to make a $19.6 million expenditure in a state so desperately in need of the money elsewhere. It seems common sense fails to prevail in this case. We suggest that the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Caltrans take a page from the Donner Memorial State Park book and think before you spend millions of dollars on a facility that may not be vital nor in the best interest of the taxpayers who foot the bill.