"We're getting really concerned," says Bev Esry, the chair of the Campo-Lake Morena Community Planning Group. "It's just a two-lane highway. We've got all those trucks mixing with all of the school buses in the morning and afternoon, because both schools [Campo Elementary and Mountain Empire High School] are right on Buckman. It is getting to be a serious traffic problem. A lot of people are getting worried because we've had a lot of close calls, and again it is not necessarily the sand trucks' fault. But there are a lot of them on there, and people get impatient and try to pass. And as the building continues out here and we get more and more people, it is only going to get worse."
Will the situation change? Not anytime soon, says Wear. The trucks can't be legislated off of Buckman Springs Road because federal railroad law stipulates that local and state governments cannot restrict the transportation of goods to and from railroads. As for finding another spot to dump the sand, both sides agree that Jacumba, 25 miles to the east, is a strong candidate. "It's right on Interstate 8," Shea says, "so it would be convenient for the trucks to pick up the sand and get right back on the highway. And Jacumba wants it."
Wear agrees. "It would really be nice if we could have some kind of facility in Jacumba where some of that product could go directly onto Interstate 8, but that is going to take us some time. We don't own the land, but the owners are interested in developing it. And if we were going to do something in Jacumba, we would make it a broad facility that would involve maybe sand and other products besides sand. But there are also some environmentally sensitive areas in Jacumba. We would have to go through all those issues, and by the time we go through all those issues and the planning process and filing the right maps and dealing with the landowners, it would take a lot of time."
Until then, Buckman Springs Road will bear the burden. Wear says he understands that nerves are frayed, and he pledges railroad support to mitigate the impact. In response to the community, he says, "We don't run the trucks from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. And we are looking at putting in some turnouts on Buckman Springs so the trucks can pull over and let people pass. And we also want to make sure that there are flashing lights at the schools. Our position is that even though it is not a requirement of any federal or state agency, we are going to be a good neighbor."