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Something fall off your car? Here’s where Caltrans takes road debris

Q: Julie Powell, of Vista, asked how to find out where Caltrans takes road debris. Powell said a friend of hers was towing her golf cart on the San Bernardino Freeway recently between Blythe and Banning. The whole back end of the golf cart – back seat, bumper and all – came off somewhere on the highway. Powell wondered if there is a junkyard or dump where Caltrans keeps the debris. She thought some of the cart might be salvageable.

A: All road debris is taken to the local Caltrans maintenance yard. If it has any worth, it’s stored for 30 days in case the owner wants to claim it, said Caltrans Spokeswoman Terri Kasinga. If the debris has no worth or is considered “trash,” sometimes it gets taken straight to the local dump or landfill, or it’s stored at the maintenance yard until someone makes a run to the dump.

If a motorist loses something on the highway, the sooner they call Caltrans to try and locate it, the better, Kasinga said. Often by the time people call and Caltrans folks can go look for the lost debris, someone has already picked it up, she said. If the California Highway Patrol or the Freeway Service Patrol removes debris due to safety concerns, they will usually put it on the side of the road and call Caltrans for pickup. Kasinga said Caltrans has discovered that random motorists will stop and pick things up pretty quickly.

Caltrans’ maintenance manual instructs its district Maintenance Divisions to provide a reasonable lost and found service to the public. Caltrans workers are supposed to turn in all items of value found along highways or from in facilities like rest areas, vista points and maintenance stations. Maintenance employees can’t claim these found items. The manual says, “Civil Code 2080 provides that a person who finds property shall inform the owner within a reasonable time and return the property to the owner. Civil Code 2080.1 provides direction regarding property with a value of more than $100 when the owner of such property is unknown. The property shall be turned over to the city police department if found within the city limits, or to the sheriff’s department if found outside the city limits.”

Q: Dicksie Spolar, who splits her time between Fontana and Utah, observed that most states don’t have the same truck laws as California, which has a 55 mph speed limit for large trucks. Spolar said she believes California’s 55 mph speed limit for big trucks causes problems on local freeways for others drivers trying to exit the freeway. Spolar complained that large trucks are often lined up in a solid line in the slow lane and others drivers can’t get through to exit the freeway. “I’d love to see trucks allowed in any lane at any speed limit,” she said.

A: On the Road has previously heard this same complaint about big rigs blocking the right lane and making it hard for cars to get over. So has California Highway Patrol Officer Dan Olivas, who we spoke to about this. Olivas noted that the 55 mph statewide speed limit for big trucks and the requirement that they drive in the right lane are there for safety reasons. These trucks are heavy and can’t stop on a dime. “Every single mile per hour that they are going makes it harder for them to stop safely, it takes longer,” he said. Perhaps this problem is highlighted more for our reader than most Californian drivers because California’s population is much higher than Utah’s, and Utah has less freeway and truck traffic.

Trucks in California have to drive in the right lane and can move into the second lane from the right to pass or make a transition to a different freeway. To make it easier for cars to exit the freeway when the right lane is crowded with trucks, drivers should prepare early to get over to the right to avoid abrupt, last-minute lane changes, Olivas said. If you plan ahead and signal, you should be able to get over in time. If you wait until the very last minute, it’s going to be a lot harder, and more dangerous.

Do you commute to work in the Inland Empire? Spend a lot of time in your vehicle? Have questions about driving, freeways, toll roads or parking? If so, write or call On the Road and we’ll try to answer your questions. Please include your question or issue, name, city of residence, phone number and email address. Write or call 951-368-9670.

Source: Orange County Register

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