Q: As a business owner adjusting to the closure to and from Truxtun Avenue due to the yet-to-be-operational on- and off-ramps, I have two questions. Are there any plans to spread wood chips over the large dirt field? If so, when? We are dealing with dirt and dust, especially when the wind blows.

Second, to help alleviate traffic congestion at Commerce Drive, Commercial Way and for those heading west on Truxtun, could a traffic light be installed at Office Park Drive? Since Commercial Way is the only way to head west on Truxtun, an additional option seems reasonable.

Many businesses have been established in this area and having only one way to head west on Truxtun seems to no longer be adequate or appropriate.

-- Darlyn Baker

A: Janet Wheeler of the Thomas Roads Improvement Program responds: "Wood chips are being placed in most sloped areas along the Westside Parkway to provide for weed, dust and erosion control. This would include the sloped areas surrounding the loop off-ramp onto Truxtun Avenue. At this time, there are no plans to place wood chips over the entire area beyond the ramp, but the city will review the request.

"Office Park Drive has always been a limited-access intersection for right-turns into and out of the street; a median prevents left turns to or from Truxtun Avenue. Left turns to or from Office Park Drive would be problematic for maintaining traffic flow on Truxtun Avenue because of the proximity of Office Park Drive to Mohawk Street.

"Commercial Way has always been the only way to head west on Truxtun Avenue from this area; construction of the Westside Parkway has not altered this condition. There are currently no plans to alter the configuration of the Commercial Way/ Truxtun Avenue intersection or traffic signal.

"With the opening of the Westside Parkway, it is anticipated that Truxtun Avenue traffic in this area will decrease, which should help the operation of both this intersection as well as the merge into Truxtun Avenue traffic. However, once the Westside Parkway opens later this summer, the operation of this intersection, as well as the merge onto Truxtun Avenue from the left-turning Commercial Way, traffic will be monitored by the city's Traffic Division, and any adjustments that need to be made will be considered at that time."

Q: What is the sheriff department's policy about officers wearing seat belts? I may be wrong but there is a policy that officers in patrol cars are not required to wear seat belts. If this is the case there have been officers who could be alive or have avoided severe injury. I know that the California Highway Patrol for sure and maybe Bakersfield Police Department have a policy about wearing seat belts. The reason I raise this issue because of liability and medical issues that result from what laws we have to obey.

-- Ed Lazaroti

A: Kern County Sheriff's Office spokesman Ray Pruitt answers: "Our policy does require that safety belts are used by drivers and passengers in vehicles, except for when the use of the safety belt would pose a risk to the passenger or the person attempting to secure the passenger.

"An exemption would be if the deputy is working undercover and believes it's necessary to protect his or her identity in the operation. I don't see any exemptions in our policy like that."

Bakersfield police spokeswoman Michaela Beard said, "Basically, members of the police department are to wear their safety restraints when in vehicle, but when arriving on the scene of a high-priority call they can take off their belts to make a quick deployment from their vehicle."

Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to asktbc@bakersfield.com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.