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Camp Fire clean up brings increased truck traffic to Yuba County

A massive operation to remove several million tons of ash, dirt, and other debris from the devastated Butte County burn area is currently underway. One consequence of this phase of the Camp Fire recovery process is that numerous roads in the Yuba-Sutter region are seeing an increased number of trucks moving along its roads.

“It’s something that has to happen, and we should not be a barrier to the important work being done to help Paradise, Magalia, Concow, and other Butte County communities ravaged by last November’s fire,” said Yuba County Administrator Robert Bendorf.

Recology’s Ostrom Road landfill west of Wheatland and another landfill located in the community of Anderson south of Redding, operated by Waste Management, will see the lion’s share of trucks carrying debris out of the town of Paradise and surrounding communities. State officials involved in planning the debris removal estimate that Yuba County will require as many as 1,000 round trips each day for the contracted trucks.

Bendorf’s office was contacted in late February by representatives from Recology and also by CalRecycle, the state agency coordinating the massive debris removal operation, about the expected significant increase in truck traffic moving to and from the Ostrom Road site.

In an effort to get a clearer understanding of the operation, Yuba County hosted a meeting on February 27 with about 30 public safety officials from Yuba and Sutter counties, as well as state officials involved in planning the debris removal operation. A CalRecycle official explained there are very few places that are able to accept and safely process the debris. He outlined a draft plan to route trucks along local highways and connector roads, but added that the plan will be constantly evaluated to reduce impacts to local residents.

“With the 2017 Cascade Fire, our own communities have been through this unavoidable stage in recovering from major fires,” Bendorf said, “so I think our residents have a good appreciation for what needs to be done. We believe there is a sincere effort to coordinate between CalRecyle, Cal-OES, CHP, Caltrans, Recology, and other relevant organizations to reduce impacts to our communities as much as possible.”

State officials said the landfills will be receiving the debris six days a week, and the process is expected to continue for approximately one year.

More than 60 crews are currently working in Butte County to remove debris, and that number may increase to more than 100 in the coming weeks. A majority of the trucks hauling debris out of that area will go to the Anderson and Yuba County landfills, although certain types of debris will be sent to others sites in northern California.

“Our community can expect to see an increase in the number of trucks traveling south on Hwy 70 through Marysville and then take Hwy 65 to South Beale Road to the Ostrom Road landfill, before returning to Butte County,” Bendorf said. “The truck routes and the impacts on local traffic are being constantly evaluated, so we will likely see frequent changes in how those vehicles reach the landfill.

“We are doing all we can to work with the state and get a better understanding of the process, because it is vital that every effort is made to ensure the safety of those traveling and living along Yuba County roads,” he said.

Contract truckers hired to haul the material to landfills are required to cover their loads with tarps to keep loose items and dust from escaping. The trucks can be identified by the displayed “DROC” (which stands for Debris Removal Operations Center) stickers on the sides of the vehicles. The drivers are being directed to stay on specific routes, in order to keep truck traffic off of most surface streets.

Bendorf said he plans to check in with Beale Air Force Base, Marysville, and other entities in Yuba and Sutter counties on a regular basis to see how their jurisdiction are being impacted over time by the operation.

“State representatives have explained numerous variables in their draft plan that may increase or decrease the amount of traffic,” Bendorf said. “It is our intent to work with the state team for the benefit of Paradise and jurisdictions in Yuba-Sutter.”