California tunnel proposal would move trucks on conveyor

| 12/29/2005

American truckers could be introduced to a system that’s has been place in Europe for more than 10 years – if a California group can sell its concept.

That group – Tri-Tunnel Express – wants to build three tunnels through the Santa Ana Mountains to link Orange and Riverside counties. They say the tunnels would reduce congestion on California Highway 91.

Tri-Tunnel’s Jack Wagner said one of the tunnels could be for heavy trucks and be modeled after the Chunnel – the long, underwater tunnel that connects England and France .

“They developed a conveyor system whereby trucks at either end of the English Channel queue up to a train-like conveyor system. The trucks would drive on, shut off their engines and then be conveyed under the English Channel to the other side. Then start up their engines and drive off,” Wagner told “Land Line Now.”

The conveyor system proposal for trucks in California could lead to lower emissions and additionally give drivers a little bit of downtime like the system in Europe , Wagner said. Though he did not discuss how hours-of-service rules would apply to truckers on the conveyor.

Wagner said truckers, and four-wheelers would pay a toll to use the tunnels.

The Tri-tunnel proposal does have opponents. Some critics note the tunnels would be built in an area prone to earthquakes.

And backers of an alternative plan are calling an elevated highway to be built in the median of the existing state Route 91.

If the tunnels are built, they’d be between 10 and 12 miles long – making them the longest public transportation tunnels in the U.S.

– By Reed Black, staff writer