07 July 2016

Carbon Canyon Commuting Crisis Context Carefully Considered (?)

It's been a hot topic on Next Door (click here) for a few months now--what should be done about all of those frustrated, short-cut seeking afternoon and evening commuters who, instead of enjoying the long wait to turn on to Carbon Canyon Road from Valencia Avenue or to continue as the road transitions from Lambert, are wending their way through the Olinda Ranch subdivision to turn left onto the state highway from Santa Fe Road, even though this is expressly prohibited by signage?

There have been a lot of ideas advanced, some sensible, others not so much, and the City of Brea has been conducting a study to determine what to do.  As reported in today's Orange County Register (click here), one suggestion is to turn the intersection of Santa Fe and Carbon Canyon into a right-turn only from Santa Fe to Carbon Canyon, using what, evidently, is called a "porkchop" island that forces vehicles into a right turn lane.  As for folks who live in the distinctly separate little "pocket" residential area further east at Brea Hills Road, there is talk of creating a very long left turn lane to allow those who live there to more easily access their part of Olinda Ranch.

Regular drivers through the canyon have certainly noticed a demonstrable uptick in volume since 2013.  As the Register piece states, more housing built in the Inland Empire, from which more and more commuters head to and from work in Orange County and Los Angeles County, means far more volume on Carbon Canyon Road as an alternative to the 91, 57, and 60 freeways.

There has been a noticeable increase in traffic on Carbon Canyon Road since 2013.  This is an example of the morning commute in May westbound at the La Vida Mineral Springs property east of Olinda Village.
Readers of this blog might recall a reference to a newspaper article in 1969 (almost a half century ago) about how congested Carbon Canyon Road was then--it was a mere pittance compared to what it is now.  Maybe in ten or twenty of thirty years, when commute times through the canyon are two hours or whatever, future residents will laugh at our complaining!

Extending this line of discussion beyond the scope of the article, however, when cities like Brea and Chino Hills continue to approve housing projects in the Carbon Canyon area, the thinking tends to gravitate towards the idea that, because more people are commuting through the canyon from points east than within the canyon, that means building more homes in the canyon becomes more justifiable.

This is not including the equally concerning issues of water supply, pollution generation, fire risk and the fact that housing developments are, in the long term, net drains on a city's finances, despite claims to the contrary.

Finally, as is usual, most of the discussion about traffic woes like those in Carbon Canyon don't look much beyond the immediate and narrowed focus on the place and the time.

In an era of accelerating climate change and a strain on resources, including, of course, water, general talk of moving ourselves away from not just the outmoded internal combustion engine using fossil fuels for power, but from the idea of single-passenger commuting is usually bypassed.

Also outdated is our overall planning method for development that, while some small examples of change have occurred, still utilized methods and philosophies that have not adequately accounted for and adjusted to the transformations that have taken place in recent years.

A little further west and a couple of minutes later on the climb up the hill towards Olinda Village.
The growing reality is that our society has to fundamentally change how we live (and drive) if we're going to make any reasonable progress towards addressing the issues that become more intractable and harder to address with each passing year.

It is totally understandable that Olinda Ranch residents and others who live in Carbon Canyon are frustrated by worsening volume on Carbon Canyon Road.  Those who have approached their city staff and electeds are to be congratulated for taking the time to try to do something.

There is, however, a larger context that local, regional and state officials seem to continue to underappreciate and under-recognize concerning applying outdated standards of development to rapidly changing circumstances.  These big-picture issues require large-scale fixes and adaptations and we're just not hearing enough about these.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We need a toll road on Carbon Canyon!