Residents of a modest Tijuana neighborhood are as much to blame as the out-of-control tractor-trailer trucks that have repeatedly damaged or destroyed homes, wrecked cars, and claimed at least one life during the past two years, according to the city's director of urban development.
The Camino Verde neighborhood, not far from Tijuana's massive 5 y 10 intersection, is situated precariously close to a major downhill thoroughfare used daily by hundreds of tractor-trailer trucks.
Because of the steep hill as Boulevard Salvador Rosas Magallón approaches 5 y 10, authorities long ago installed a series of sand-filled de-acceleration ramps meant to safely stop trucks when their brakes fail.
But, in an interview with El Sol de Tijuana, Esteban Yee Barba, Tijuana's secretary of urban development, said that residents of Camino Verde have been stealing sand from the ramp in their neighborhood for years, leaving little left to stop trucks.
In addition, he said residents have built structures on land originally meant for the truck-stopping ramp. "They have removed almost a third of the distance needed for the ramp to function," Yee told El Sol.
The result has been a series of disasters, most recently on April 26, when a family enjoying the afternoon sun on the patio of their Camino Verde home was struck by a tractor-trailer whose brakes had failed and was unable to stop in time because the de-acceleration ramp did not function properly.
The crash claimed the life of a father, seriously injured his wife, and left their one-year-old daughter less seriously hurt. Their home was declared a total loss, and two other houses nearby suffered substantial damage.
Almost two years ago, at the same ramp, another truck's brakes failed and it rammed into and destroyed another Camino Verde home, as well as crunching ten cars parked along the street.
Yee said city officials were taking steps to try to resolve the problem, but that it will take time. They plan to go to court to get orders to reclaim land originally meant for the ramps that has been taken illegally by residents.
In the meantime, he said, the city plans to erect concrete barriers, install speed bumps on the highway, place more signs warning of the danger, and to look for a less-attractive filler than sand for the ramps to discourage theft.
"The area adjacent to the ramp was once uninhabited land, and I remember that it functioned effectively on more than ten occasions to stop the trucks," Yee told El Sol.