06 December 2014

Carbon Canyon Road Truck Advisory Posted

A new sign on the eastbound side of Carbon Canyon Road (State Route 142) just past Sleepy Hollow warning drivers of vehicles over 50 feet in length that it is "not advised" to travel beyond Fairway Drive [and Ginseng Lane].
Early this week, CalTrans District 8, which is responsible for the maintenance of the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon Road (State Route 142), placed a quartet of signs on both sides of the state highway warning that trucks over 50 feet in length were not advised to proceed up the S-curve between Fairway Drive/Ginseng Lane and Old Carbon Canyon Road.

There has been a committee of concerned citizens that has met several times in recent months to express opposition to the use of Carbon Canyon Road by large vehicles.  Whether this effort has led to the posting of these signs is not known.

In any event, it remains to be seen whether there will be any change in how bigger vehicles use the state highway.

A second warning piece of advise found just past Valley Springs Road at the Western Hills Oaks subdivision.
What is striking, first, though, is that there are no warning signs prior to trucks turning onto Carbon Canyon Road as they turn westward from Chino Hills Parkway [added 8 Dec:  There is an old sign on westbound Chino Hills Parkway way back near Pipeline Avenue advising against vehicles over 30 feet in length using the state highway, but this obviously contrasts with new 50-foot vehicle advisory].  This matters because there is no apparently convenient location for trucks to turn around once they are on Carbon Canyon and approaching the designated "point of no return," that is, Old Carbon Canyon Road.

Note, however, that the signs stationed along the westbound side of the highway read "Old Canyon Road."  A truck driver unfamiliar with the canyon could well think that there is no "Old Canyon Road" and continue on through.

Now, for the signs on the westbound side of Carbon Canyon--this one being a hop, skip and a few jumps from the intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Chino Hills Parkway.  Notice that vehicles over 50 feet in length are "not advised beyond Old Canyon Rd."  The only problem is that there is no "Old Canyon Rd," though there is an "Old Carbon Canyon Road"!
The situation is basically the same for the eastbound portion.  The first sign appears just east of Sleepy Hollow and the second at Valley Springs Road.  A decent turnaround spot for trucks just doesn't exist in that area.

The second issue, however, is simply that the signs are advisory and not compulsory.  Truck drivers are merely warned.  Clearly, that's all that CalTrans feels it can do with a state highway paid for by public taxes collected throughout California and allocated in San Bernardino County where Carbon Canyon Road may still be perceived as an important arterial highway connecting the inland and coastal areas.

As raised here before, though, there are precedents for changing the status of a roadway so that local control can be exercised.  The most obvious nearby example is Hacienda Road through La Habra Heights.

For many years, State Highway 39 extended north from Huntington Beach along Beach Boulevard to La Habra, at which point the route briefly followed Whittier Boulevard east to Hacienda Road and then north through the Puente Hills--along a pathway with many similarities to Carbon Canyon Road, including steep elevations, tight curves and so forth.  Highway 39 then continued north through the eastern San Gabriel Valley and into the San Gabriel Mountains.

Some time back, however, the Highway 39 designation was removed from Whittier Boulevard northward in La Habra Heights and points beyond.  Moreover, portions of the old 39 route through Covina and Azusa have also been deleted from 2005 onward as a designated state highway.  The same is true for a section of Beach Boulevard in Buena Park, in which the city has, as of 2013, assumed control of the roadway.

And, finally, the second of the westbound signs just after Feldspar Drive at the Summit Ranch tract.   Drivers have 850 feet to figure out whether "Old Canyon Rd" means "Old Carbon Canyon Rd."
What this means is that it is possible for the same to be done to Carbon Canyon Road.  As with Route 39, Route 142 could be fully or partially returned to local control in Chino Hills and/or Brea.  Not that these cities are itching to take responsibility for the roadway and all that is entailed in keeping the road in good repair as it moves through areas prone to rock and mudslides, fire and so on.

However, if there is a major shared concern about the impacts of truck traffic along Carbon Canyon Road, it seems obvious that, at this juncture, CalTrans is not disposed towards banning vehicles longer than 50 feet.  If what was done with Route 39 was done with Route 142, it is far more likely that ban, rather than just an advisory, could be implemented.  Again, Brea and Chino Hills are not probably clamoring for control.

One last point:  while it is annoying when the driver of a larger truck does not know how to navigate the S-curve and gets stuck or crosses into the opposing lane to get through a tight curve, there have been very few accidents involving these vehicles.

The much bigger problem is the reckless and dangerous driving of the far greater number of smaller vehicles (cars and motorcycles) which cause the vast majority of the accidents along Carbon Canyon Road.  It seems reasonable to devote more attention to this significant threat to life and property, rather than the lesser one of larger trucks struggling to get through the S-curve.

Anyway, let's see whether the advisory signs have any real effect.


Jeff Fischer said...

Right on, all counts. Hadn't noticed the Eastbound sign yet, but the first time I saw the Westbound I thought, "but at that point, what are they supposed to do?" I guess they could veer off on Old Carbon Cyn (and good catch on the wrong name on the sign--didn't even notice), and then wiggle their way into a 180, but it would seem a *lot* simpler if the sign were put right at CHP, like you said.

prs said...

Hi Jeff, thanks for the comment. I did notice today (and added something on the post about it) that there is an older sign westbound on Chino Hills Parkway just past Pipeline that warns against 30' or longer vehicles using the state highway, but that's a big difference from 50' specifically at the S-curve. Whether anything effect is had, we'll see.