21 February 2010

Carbon Canyon Road State Route 142 History

The origins of the California state highway system go back to 1895 with the creation of the Bureau of Highways.  That year, the first state-mandated road laws were drawn up and published.  The following year, a change was made to the bureau, which was rechristened the Department of Highways.  Because of fallout from the national Depression of 1893, however, very little was done with respect to building and maintaining state highways.  The first of these was a road from Placerville, an 1849 gold town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to Lake Tahoe, which opened in 1895.  Still, the number of highways was very small and these were still being mainly used by horse-drawn vehicles.

In 1907, as automobiles were starting to become less a novelty and more commonplace, another transformation took place as the highway department became the Division of Highways under the aegis of the Department of Engineering.  Again, the economic outlook was not good with a significant recession that began that year.  Despite a state highway act passed by the legislature in 1909, followed by an $18 million bond act approved the next year by voters, there were, two years later, only 550 miles of state highways built and operating.  Meantime, in 1914, Carbon Canyon Road was engineered and built through from the Olinda oil field in Brea in Orange County to Chino in San Bernardino County.  The road wasn't paved, but it was a passable route.

As the 1920s dawned, however, the car was becoming a transportation staple in California and the state was becoming known as the biggest market in the world for the automobile.  At the start of the decade, there were 6,400 miles, a figure that grew by a little under 20% to 7,700 miles by 1931.  In the mid-1920s, the completion of Los Serranos Country Club in Chino and interest in its developers and operators in bringing a faster route to the club and associated housing subdivision from Los Angeles, the gradual development of shortcuts from inland areas to Southland beaches, and a demand for tourist and weekend pleasure driving routes led to the paving and rerouting of Carbon Canyon Road.  Even though the Great Depression was worsening, the first big boom period for state highway construction was between 1931 and 1933, when the mileage shot up to almost 14,000 miles, nearly double in just two years.

The early Thirties, in fact, brought about a major change to the state highway system.  Numbered roads had been part of a federal highway system since the 1920s, including such roadways as US-101, US-91, US-395, and the famous US-66.  But, in 1933 numbered state highways were introduced.  Among those designated was Carbon Canyon Road, which was from Route 90 (later Imperial Highway) to Route 71 (today's Chino Valley Freeway, previously the Corona Expressway) and given the highway number 177.  Interestingly, the new highway was originally started at what is now Kraemer Avenue and didn't get relocated to its current Valencia Avenue terminus until much later.  Despite the designation, Carbon Canyon Road was never actually provided with signage as Highway 177.

Between 1933 and 1954, there was relatively little highway construction as the Great Depression worsened, followed by the ration years of World War II when resources were devoted almost exclusively to the war effort.  By the mid-Fifties, however, a new economic boom was on and in tandem with a massive federal interstate highway system that was underway, a modest increase in state highway building took place.  In the five years between 1954 and 1959, another 2,000 miles, about a 15% increase, of highways were built in the state.  In the fifty years since, highway construction has only increased by about 400 miles to the current total of just under 17,000.

In 1959, another change occurred to Carbon Canyon Road as Route 177, which was a plan to eliminate an old route 274, which was designated to go from Route 71 along Central Avenue in Chino and Montclair and connect to the old Route 30 (now the relatively new State 210 freeway) and add it to the 177 route.

It also appears that, by 1963, the Route 177 designation was replaced by the current one of State Route 142.  The surprise for most of us is that, while Highway 142 is constructed and fully designated as going from Imperial Highway at Valencia Road  to Highway 71, a distance of twelve miles, CalTrans still considers the overall length of SR-142 as being twenty-one miles, the remaining nine miles of "unconstructed" roadway being, evidently, the Central Avenue corridor.  It is hard to believe that there will ever be a "construction" of that route and, in fact, there might even be compelling reasons to question whether it makes sense for the current, constructed part of SR-142 to remain a part of the state highway system.  More on that later!

Information for this post comes from: 

State Highway Routes, Selected Information (1995 revision of a 1994 report) by the Office of Highway System Engineering, State Business and Transportation Agency, Division of Highways, Department of Transportation of the State of California.

Traversable Highway Report issued in October 2002 by the Highway System Engineering Branch, Transformation System Information, Department of Transportation, and Business, Transportation and Housing Agency of the State of California.

15 February 2010

Updates on the Olinda Village Traffic Signal Controversy

The traffic signal saga continues with two comments lately left on the 12 February post on this subject:

Anonymous said...

I was forwarded a copy of this email.
Subject: New Traffic Light Carbon Canyon Rd and Olinda Place/Ruby Drive
Brea, CA

I am responding to your emails to address your concerns regarding the subject traffic signal. I would like to let you know that our traffic and electrical engineers, City of Brea police officers, and engineers from the City of Brea inspected and monitored the traffic signal today and it was found to have a faulty (stuck) sensor which was causing the light to change to red more frequently than it should have. The sensor has been reset and is functioning normally. At the conclusion of monitoring the signal timing for three hours, the timing has also been adjusted. Caltrans will be monitoring and surveilling the signal timing through to next Thursday, especially in peak periods, and we will make any further necessary adjustments. This is the usual and normal process with a new traffic signal installation.

Please also be aware that the signal permittee is the City of Brea and the signal was fully funded by the City. Caltrans will maintain and operate the signal after acceptance. The permit has not been signed off (meaning the signal is not yet accepted) as there are some minor items with the permit still to be corrected.

I would like to thank you for bringing this matter to our attention, and hope that you are satisfied with our immediate response to your concerns. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or concerns.


Tracey Lavelle
Office Chief, Public Information/Governmental Affairs/EEO
Caltrans - District 12 Orange County
(949) 724-2031 office
(949) 279-8552 cell
(949) 724-2748 fax

canyon lover said...

On Tuesday there is a City Council Meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 7 pm. There is a growing group of people from the village who are planning to go and speak about the signal issues during "Matters From The Audience" (usually toward the beginning of the meeting). If you are so inclined, it is a good idea to attend to ensure that city staff knows the extent of the problem and our discontent.

So, we will see whether the change in the sensors and timing will correct the problem and also what the results of public comment at tomorrow night's Brea City Council meeting will be.

12 February 2010

Olinda Village Traffic Signals Has Commuters Seeing Red

It's only been a week and the new traffic signal on Carbon Canyon Road (Route 142) has already generated some pointed comments on this blog.  Which leads me to think that those exchanges are more likely to be read and engender more of the same by incorporating them into a post rather than leaving them in the comment section of the initial post from last week.

So, here is what has been said so far about the signal:

Chino Hills Professionals said...

Let's hope the lights improve the traffic patterns. Let's hope the lights offer a solution to what is, with unanimous agreement, the only thing in the Canyon that is UGLY! (Traffic)

canyon lover said...

I don't see how this could possibly not affect traffic in the canyon. On Thursday night at 6 p.m., I was told, the traffic was backed up all the way from Valencia. I came through a little before 7 and it was backed up from santa fe (usually there's no backup that time of night). I also noticed as I turned into Olinda Village that the traffic flowed freely after the signal. I wonder what's going to happen the first time the signal goes out and starts flashing red, forcing everyone to stop at the intersection. I guess we'll be backed up to the freeway. I know, I know, I may be passing judgment prematurely, but I believe that this has the potential to cause major problems for everybody who drives the canyon. Oh, and how about those new flashing signs that give that same warm feeling you get when passing through an immigration checkpoint, not to mention the multiple street lights that absolutely ruin the ambience. Whose idea was this?

Paul said...

Hello Chino Hills Professionals and Canyon Lover, I think I've probably said (more than?) enough on this topic so that it is abundantly clear what my opinion is. The fact is: the only benefit are to those in Olinda Village. For overall traffic, the ugly aspect that CH Professionals refers to, there is no solution. As I've said, I understand the frustrations the Olinda Village folks who've wanted a signal have experienced, but in Sleepy Hollow we can't have signals. It's just not physically possible, so we have to live with that same frustration. And, there will be more, if Chino Hills can follow through with their plans for two signals on their side. Good for the folks in those immediate neighborhood--no effect on overall traffic in the Canyon.

canyon lover said...

Paul, I live in Olinda Village, and believe me, it's no benefit to me. The worst of it will be going west to east because of the blind hill right before the signal, where there's a natural slowdown anyway, and that's the way I come home from work. I know a lot of people in the village may have been in favor of putting in a signal, but it seems to me that the folks in Hollydale and the kids from there having to cross to go to the elementary school may have been the deciding factor. That said, what's done is done, and I could go on forever about it, but I'll give it a rest. It just makes me sad and frustrated. Once again, for the benefit of a few, thousands are impacted. (An easy solution to turning left out of Hollydale against traffic would have been simply to turn right instead, turn into Olinda Village and turn right from there. Not that big a deal.)

Anonymous said...

The new lights in the Canyon have created a nightmare for those who drive through the Canyon during traffic hours. It now takes twice the time to get through. How ever thought the lights were a good idea was not thinking clearly.
Paul said...

Hello Canyon Lover (again) and Anonymous, I was not aware of who the prime movers were for the lights, but, as Canyon Lover and Anonymous indicate, it may already be obvious that any traffic improvements will be one-sides [sided!] (that is, side traffic coming from Olinda Village, including Hollydale Mobile Home Estates.) I don't come through in the morning until after 8:30 and NEVER come through in the late afternoon and early evening anyway, so I can't speak for those periods. At any rate, let's see how matters shake out over the coming weeks and months! Thanks for the comments, guys!

Anonymous said...

What a ridiculous idea! It already took long enough to get through the Canyon and now it takes almost three times as long! I used to enjoy driving through the Canyon and used to think, "I need to be the passenger in the car and drive through here so I can really see everything"....Watch what you wish for....I am now at a dead stop and go for over an hour and can look around without a problem! Psh, whomever's idea this was is a complete moron. The canyon is a BEAUTIFUL place with a wonderful and colorful history, and unfortunately the only colors now are bright flashing yellows, with ugly reds and greens!

mark said...

traffic signal not going to impact traffic?? yeah right. It now take an extra 20 minutes to get through the cayon. Anything being done to fix this?

Paul said...

Hi Anonymous and Mark, obviously the introduction of this traffic signal has hit a chord! You and others might try sending a little Valentine's Day message to the Brea City Council, but this project has been years in the making and cost several hundred thousand dollars. The only suggestion I have is to recommend that the timing be adjusted so that signal changes for those entering Carbon Canyon Road require longer wait times. This would at least allow the traffic on Route 142 to move a little faster. I can't imagine the city is going to like that suggestion, though. A few more comments and I'll put together a post just on that! Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

canyon lover said...

That's exactly what folks should do, Paul. Contact the Brea City Council. They're well aware of the problem, and the more comments they get, the more likely we are to be taken seriously. Caltrans controls the light, but the council is the best way to get your thougts across. So spread the word everybody! The Sleepy Hollow/Chino Hills side needs to chime in, too. By the way, it took me 25 minutes to go less than two miles last night AFTER 7 p.m., pretty well past rush hour. Reminds me of the housing bubble. Did no one see this coming?

Anonymous said...

congratulations to the responsible special interest in congesting the canyon, increasing everyones commute time, fuel use, and for those of us who live here, the resultant exhaust and trash. By the way, can anyone explain the red light for through traffic at 3:00 am, no cross traffic present.

Toe.Knee said...

I would like to add my two cents to this issue. I have been going through the Canyon for two and a half years now and have always let commuters entering 142 in whenever safe. I don't know what the people in the Olinda Village said to get this traffic light installed, but I am sure that it's not helping them at all now. I am a prime candidate for hitting traffic going and leaving work in the canyon and before what use to be maybe a 30 minute wait in the canyon has increased to an hour. I really don't appreciate the traffic and what it's done to my fuel usage constantly stopping and going on the big hill. If there is a petition to "improve" the way the traffic light performs please let me know, within my company there are quiet a few people that enter this void of a canyon now that the light is setup , and we would definately like to see a change.

As noted above, the only likely mitigation is public comment at Brea City Council meetings and specific requests to, for example, adjust the timing of light changes so that those looking to enter Carbon Canyon Road from Olinda Village/Hollydale have to wait longer. Otherwise, it is nearly impossible to imagine any other reasonable scenario, given how long this project took to bring to fruition and the cost that was entailed in it.

Still, keep those comments coming and, if it helps, I can forward them on to the City Council via e-mail or snail mail, unless a Brea resident is willing to present something directly at a council meeting?

10 February 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #4153

Here is another little incident of recent vintage, probably last weekend. 

The location is a common one for mishaps, this is westbound on Carbon Canyon Road (Route 142) at the old turnoff to the former La Vida Mineral Springs motel in Brea. 

This section of guardrail was just replaced last year, so CalTrans District 12 will soon be out to do another patch job.

09 February 2010

Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Some discussion of the history of the establishment of Carbon Canyon Regional Park has been contained in this blog, mainly how the park emanated from the gradual decline of the Olinda oil town that existed on that site for decades, the creation of Carbon Canyon Dam in the late 1950s, and the decision of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, which planned, built and manages the dam, and the County of Orange to develop the park, which opened in the mid-1960s. 

For a good thirty or more years, the park was an isolated gem in the "wilds" of northeastern Orange County, but has become a lot heavier utilized as urbanization has slowly creeped its direction.  Now, on holidays and many weekends, the park is jammed with visitors enjoying the picnic shelters, playgrounds, lake stocked with fish, paths and trails, grassy areas, and tennis courts.

In six years in the Canyon, I've visited the park far less often than I should have, usually to attend birthday parties, but on Sunday my family and I spent a couple of hours there, with the kids riding their bikes and the family as a whole exploring the park, or at least those parts that were open.  For example, the walking trail to the redwood grove was closed because of our recent wet weather.  Still, there was much to see, do and enjoy.

For those interested in the history of the area, there is a State Historic Landmark plaque at the eastern end of the park, where the old entrance across from El Rodeo Stables is.  The plaque identifies the Olinda community and oil fields and is the only reminder of what was once a thriving place for several hundred oil field workers and their families.  The original Olinda School, for example, stood not too far from the plaque next to Carbon [Canyon] Creek, which runs through the eastern edge of the park, towards the dam at its southern end.

There is also a waterwise garden that has been recently introduced and appears to still be in process on the far eastern portion, next to the future visitor center for Chino Hills State Park, which is been under construction for quite some time, but new work very much in evidence since bond funding for it was recently unfrozen by order of the governor.

The lake, which had a few people fishing in it when we were there, was so full with recent rainwater that it overflowed its banks and spilled over into adjacent areas.  There are a few picnic shelters in close proximity and there is a nice ambiance in and around this body of water, which is likely filled with water pumped in from nearby Metropolitan Water District water that is part of the Robert B. Diemer treatment plant atop the hills just to the east.

The tennis courts weren't in use, but there are several of them and well-maintained.  I've been at the park when there have been soccer leagues using the wide grassy areas at the southwestern end, though the heavy rains have left this area very soggy and flooded what appears to be new construction or repaving, perhaps, of the parking areas at the west end of this section.

Also at the far eastern end of the park, parallelling Carbon Canyon Road from the parking lot near the old entrance is an access trail to Chino Hills State Park.  Given the dire condition of state finances, our state parks have come very near to complete closure and the threat of such a desperate move (even though many of the parks actually turn a profit) still exists.  Therefore, it is sad to see so many cars parked along the side of Carbon Canyon Road and even blocking emergency call boxes (which, after all, might actually be needed by stranded motorists) in the all-consuming desire to get free access to the park.  At any rate, a $3 admission on weekdays and $5 on weekends (much less an annual pass, which still appears to be $55 generally or $35 for seniors and the disabled) seems a small price to pay to access the State Park.

As said above, the walking trail that branches off from the eastern end of the park and crossed Carbon [Canyon] Creek has been closed.  It's been probably seven or eight years since I last walked it back to the redwood (yes, redwood!) grove that was planted years ago in a corner of the park.  Back then, the hills above that were undeveloped and an informal trail climbed the steep slopes and gave hardy climbers a good workout on the way up.  But, within the last several years, the city of Yorba Linda, never one to let valuable and needed open space get in the way of a housing development, permitted the Toll Brothers development company to build homes up to the very border of the park, including on that hill--and has that taken a toll (ha) on the sense of isolation that the park once had in that southeasterly direction (of course, the building of Olinda Ranch earlier in the 2000s also contributed its share of enveloping the park.)  Someday, a return trip to walk the trail again when it is opened is in order.

Actually, regular return trips to the park generally are in order.  Carbon Canyon Regional Park, even though it has lost its remoteness, is still a gem that has amenities to suit just about anyone looking for a place for a good picnic, a challenging game of tennis, a nice walk to redwood trees (yes, redwoods--when the trail is open, that is), a bike ride, a quiet day of fishing, and some pretty cool playground equipment, too.

The photos interspersed here were taken on Sunday afternoon and there are a few more in the Gallery at the bottom of the blog page.

08 February 2010

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #4022 and 4061

It has actually been a quiet month on Carbon Canyon Road with respect to traffic accidents.  There was a road closure last Thursday morning on the S-curve in Chino Hills due to a collision (#4022) and, over the last weekend, there was another conflict (#4061) on the Brea side between car and CalTrans sign that, once again, favored the former and doomed the latter.  Usually when fenders come off a vehicle, there has to be a fair amount of speed going on, but who knows for sure?  At any rate, here are a few documentary views of the scene, which is eastbound on the highway just after Carbon Canyon Regional Park and the site of the new Chino Hills State Park Visitor Center before the ascent to Olinda Village.

06 February 2010

Olinda Village Traffic Signals Completed

Well, there they are in all their glory!  The traffic signals installed at Olinda Village over the course of the last few months are complete and in working order as of Thursday.  The views above were taken on Friday morning. 

Note the temporary message boards on both sides, PLUS flashing warning lights, WITH the eastbound ones having text boards looking just like those Amber Alert signs you see on the freeway.  Except this is little ol' two-lane Carbon Canyon Road, so they look even more disproportionate to their environment. 

So much for retaining the rural character of Carbon Canyon!  All we need now are some more houses and
. . . oops, a few hundred of those are coming someday, too!  Plus, we can look forward to the day when more signals are added on the Chino Hills side at Canon Lane and Canyon Hills Road.  Why, it won't be too much longer before Carbon Canyon looks nearly identical to the sprawl around it!  All we'd need is a Starbucks and a 7-11 and some billboards and the extreme makeover of the Canyon would be complete.

But, seriously folks, it will remain to be seen whether there is any significant slowdown during busy commuter hours or whether there will be an uptick in accidents as a result of the signals.   

Now, if they could just find some money to repave the Orange County side of the highway.