30 August 2009

More on Carbon Canyon Speed Limit Confusion

The strange situation with the reduction and then the reinstatement of speed limits on the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) was somewhat clarified in the Chino Hills Champion yesterday.

The explanation, however, by a CalTrans public information officer in the District 8 office was only slightly modified from the one an unknown staffer there gave me (if it can be called that) when I called.

Namely, a traffic study had been conducted, a process that seems to take place every five years or so as traffic conditions change on a state highway. Yet, the PIO did not say what specific conditions had changed, nor evidently was she asked by the Champion, although I did ask that question and received no answer (well, there was an answer, just not addressing my question) from the person I spoke to.

It turns out there will be a second speed study, though this raises an interesting question. That is, what will have changed in the presumably very short time (weeks, a few months?) between the first and the second? Wouldn't it stand to reason that whatever was discovered in the first will be present in the second and, therefore, the same conclusions reached, namely that limits should be lowered?

Indeed, Chino Hills City Manager Mike Fleager told the City Council last Tuesday "that although CalTrans may re-do the speed study, the agency doesn't anticipate that the results would change." Yet, the city, Fleager said, "had some problems with the study." These, too, were not explained and, again, the paper didn't ask what those problems were.

One element to this that doesn't make much sense, though is hardly surprising, is that the city was not notified of the changes, which as Mayor Peter Rogers stated, left it having to address questions to a situation of which they were unaware. The CalTrans PIO, meanwhile, told the Champion that "CalTrans is not mandated to notify the city about speed limit changes," even though Chino Hills is responsible for law enforcement on the road. Still, the PIO stated that CalTrans would, when the second study is completed, notify the city and the community.

But, if CalTrans doesn't have to and saw no reason to say anything the first time, what changes now? Didn't anyone in a position of responsibilty at District 8 even comprehend the fact that an unannounced change in speed limits of Highway 142 would raise questions (not to mention ire)? Couldn't a meeting have been scheduled or at least a simple phone call made to discuss the traffic study, its conclusions and the decision that came from it? Didn't it seem more than a little obvious that the local agency that has to patrol the roads and issue speeding tickets ought to have been given a heads-up on this?

I'm not actually opposed to a speed limit reduction, if it has legitimate reasons behind it. The problem: no reasons at all were given. Obviously, that won't be the case next time.

There is, though, one other consideration. No matter what speed limit is assigned to Carbon Canyon Road--IT WILL BE BROKEN, FREQUENTLY EXCESSIVELY, AND OFTEN.

And, it won't be just at the one or two times during the day when the Sheriff's Department is out there. Look at the skid marks and the mashed-in guardrails, and the tire tracks heading off the side of the highway, and the damaged utility boxes, power poles and private property. The evidence is more than abundantly clear and anyone who lives alongside or near the road can tell you that screeching tires are a daily (with a particular emphasis on nightly) occurrence, especially on weekends, precisely when police traffic enforcement never happens.

Simply put, laws are meaningless if not enforced to address the problem. If CalTrans has good reason to lower the speed limit, and the city agrees, then it stands to reason that enforcement policy would have to change.

We'll see what comes next as the second study is completed.

No comments: