30 November 2016

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #19541

A neighbor on Monday passed along the news that there was a wreck on Sunday on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon.

Sure enough, the eastbound lane of Carbon Canyon Road shows residue on the road and scraping along the hillside at the scene directly across from the La Vida Mineral Springs property.  It did rain on Sunday, but whether this was a factor is not known, nor are other details known.

26 November 2016

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s19371 and 19426

There has been less activity on this blog than in the past and that means that some of the attention paid to errant drivers and their mishaps along Carbon Canyon Road has been lacking.

Still, it does appear that there have been fewer crashes along the state highway recently.

However, there are two recent examples that show that dangerous driving still takes place and that anyone navigating the road should beware of their brethren racing along.

One spot is a common one for crashes:  this is at the mid-point of the S-curve in the Chino Hills portion of the canyon, where metal barriers are placed to protect a light pole.  Invariably, these barriers get hit, plowed down, and repositioned.  Even an old tree stump used as further protection was shoved back from its previous position.

Over on the Brea side of the canyon near the old La Vida Mineral Springs resort site, a vehicle left the roadway in recent days and took out the end of a guardrail on the southern side of the highway.

More dangerously, this vehicle was clearly traveling westbound and crossed lanes before plowing into the rail.  This is also an area that experiences regular instances of miscalculation along Carbon Canyon Road.

It may well be that persons celebrating Thanksgiving were a little too impaired when driving through the canyon.  As the Christmas and New Year's holidays approach, it may well be that other examples will follow.  We'll see . . .

13 November 2016

Western Carbon Canyon and Brea Area Map, 1964

Following the recent post that highlighted a United States Geological Map from 1967 showing the eastern portion of the Carbon Canyon Road corridor and the future City of Chino Hills, this entry takes us to the west and the portion of the newly numbered state highway (142) in a 1964 edition of the Yorba Linda Quadrangle.

The map basically covers, from west to east, eastern Fullerton, western Placentia and eastern Brea to Yorba Linda and much of the Chino Hills range and, from north to south, a section of City of Industry, southern Diamond Bar and Tres Hermanos ranch to downtown Placentia and southern Yorba Linda.

Being over half a century ago, there is not much development in Diamond Bar, which was then about a half dozen years old.  Yorba Linda only went as far east as about Fairmont Boulevard and Yorba Linda Boulevard.  The portion of Brea shown, essentially from Placentia Avenue east had no residences at all--everything in this section consisted of oil fields.  Much of Placentia was either oil fields, orange groves, or housing tracts that were plotted out, but not yet built.

This 1964 United States Geological Survey map of the Yorba Linda Quadrangle includes the Carbon Canyon area from the S-curve in what is now Chino Hills west to Olinda and Brea (and a lot more.)  Click on any image to see them enlarged in a separate window.
In the Carbon Canyon area, the dam was about six years old and the regional park was a decade or so from opening.  Olinda Village, which was developed from 1964, is not shown on the map.  La Vida Mineral Springs was still very much in operation.

Sleepy Hollow and the Mountain View Park tract just over the San Bernardino County line were well established, but Western Hills Country Club was still in development and the Western Hills Oaks housing tract was a couple years off yet.

In fact, the Shelly Stoody Ranch, where the golf course would soon be developed is still shown with its airplane hangar about where the clubhouse is today and Stoody's residence, which still stands, up on the hill overlooking the hangar site.  Stoody and passengers were killed when his airplane crashed into a hillside on his ranch a few years before the publication of the map.

This detail shows the area from La Vida Mineral Springs to the S-curve and up to  portions of Tonner Canyon.
As far as Carbon Canyon Road is concerned, it extended from Valencia Avenue north past the junction of Rose Drive and what was then Brea-Olinda Boulevard (now Birch Street) and then went at an angle to the northeast and curved toward the east.  The remnant of this old roadway is still visible to the east of the current Valencia Avenue path before Lambert Road, which not exist at the time.

Once Carbon Canyon Road properly began after this curve, its pathway is almost completely the same as today, except for one little jog on the San Bernardino County portion where it took a sharp curve before ascending the summit where the Carriage Hills tract is now.  That jog also still exists as Ginseng Road, just south of today's road path.

At the S-curve, the current roadway is shown, but so, too, is the Old Carbon Canyon Road, which veered sharply to the right and then ascended down and curved left. This old roadway is also in existence and goes just between the modern road and the Carriage Hills tract before abruptly ending before Old Carbon Canyon Road, which then intersected with today's highway.

A closer detail of the map covers the area from La Vida to Sleepy Hollow and the coming together of the three counties of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino.
Also of interest given recent activity is the area encompassing the Tres Hermanos Ranch in Tonner Canyon north of Carbon Canyon.  The Firestone Boy Scout Reservation is shown at the lower portion of the ranch and the Arnold Reservoir is shown towards the upper end.

In 1964, the heirs of Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler, one of the tres hermanos (three brothers, who actually weren't siblings, but friends) including William Rowland and William B. Scott who bought the ranch in the 1910s, were still owners of Tres Hermanos.  They were leasing the property, however, to Hal Arnold, who grazed cattle on the ranch.

In 1978, the Chandlers sold Tres Hermanos to the City of Industry, which allowed Arnold to continue the lease until it went to others.  Cattle are, for now, still roaming the ranch pending its future transformation, whatever that entails.

Brea canyon at the left and upper left and Tonner Canyon, including the Firestone Boy Scout Reservation, running from lower left to upper right are notable in this detail.
There are other notable elements, including the old Brea Canyon Road being the only access between Brea and Diamond Bar, several years before the construction of the 57 Freeway.  The old Pacific Electric Railway streetcar line parallels Imperial Highway.

The former Anaheim Union Water Company canal, an irrigation channel that ran from the company's reservoir where Tri-City Park is today off Kraemer Avenue (then Carolina Avenue), ran southeast--this pathway is largely a multiuse trail within the City of Yorba Linda running from about the intersection of Rose Drive and Bastanchury Road (which didn't exist westward past that point and east it was Citrus Avenue) down into the outskirts of downtown and beyond.

In the early 1970s, Frances Klug, who was dismayed by the direction taken by the Roman Catholic Church after the Vatican II transformation, bought some ranch land adjacent to Sleepy Hollow and established St. Joseph's Hill of Hope, but, of course, the only indication of what would be there on this map is an access road to what an earlier ranch.

The upper portion of Tonner Canyon includes the area where Tres Hermanos Ranch is located in and around Arnold Reservoir, which is now just south of Grand Avenue (that roadway did not appear until years later.)  The future of this large ranch of about 2,500 acres is uncertain.
Then there are vast stretches of the Chino Hills that were still largely used as ranch land, including the Rolling M Ranch, which was owned by Christopher Hendra and his Mollin Investment Company until the 1720-acre property was sold to the state for the development of Chino Hills State Park.  There was also the McDermont Ranch, which was discussed in the recent post concerning the 1967 map.

This map and its sister 1967 edition for land to the east allow us to see what the Carbon Canyon area and surrounding regions were like in the transitional period between oil production, citrus growing and cattle raising and spreading suburban development that ramped up increasingly in the decades following the publication of these valuable documents.

05 November 2016

Carbon Canyon Traffic Study Underway

This blog once had a post that cited a 1969 (yes, 47 years ago) article about concerns of traffic on Carbon Canyon Road.  So, this is hardly a new issue, yet little, really, has been done about planning for the future of a road that is no wider and has no more built capacity today than it did a half-century ago.  But . . .

Today's Champion has an article by Marianne Napoles on a traffic study for Carbon Canyon Road that is, evidently, in the planning stages and being coordinated by the City of Chino Hills in partnership with the City of Brea and CalTrans, of which two districts (8 in San Bernardino County and 12 in Orange County) have jurisdictions in the canyon.

According to Chino Hills city manager Rad Bartlam, proposals were sought from give traffic engineering consulting companies with one so far received, about two weeks ago.  The estimate for the length of the study is about six months once the contract is signed.  Details on what the study would involve were not given, but, presumably, would be once the announcement of selection is made.

Interestingly, Bartlam told the city council about ten days ago, that previous conversations with Brea and CalTrans did not lead anywhere, but now they "have become fruitful and have shed light onthe 'monumental challenges' ahead."  According to the city manager, road capacity, traffic operations and truck traffic are the "three major factors."

What's curious is that missing among the "major factors" is basic urban planning principles relating to residential and commercial development and transportation networks.  Is it really believed that these are unrelated to the factors Bartlam identified?

Given the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's astounding editorial conclusion that the "best of all solutions" for regional traffic is a "mature" economy bringing jobs closer to Inland Empire residents, whatever that means, this is a central issue that planners and leaders need to be asked.

A prime opportunity to do this would be at dedicated public meetings/workshops, if these are going to be offered either during or after the traffic study.

A late August grind up the S-curve heading west on Carbon Canyon Road towards Orange County.  Lines have gotten very noticeably longer in and outside of the canyon in recent months.

Notably, the article identified where the worse problems are along the state highway on the Brea side, principally at the intersection with Santa Fe Road, and also pointed out that there is some reconsideration of the signals placed at Olinda Village several years back in terms of having them "modified to make it [sic--them] better."

Nothing, however, was said about the Chino Hills side.  This observer has noted two major periods of increased volume.  The first was in 2013 and the other within the last several months.  In recent weeks and months, lines of cars waiting to enter the canyon, which were very common on west/north-bound Chino Hills Parkway coming from the 71 Freeway, now include a caravan of vehicles backing up to Eucayptus Avenue and even a little beyond on Chino Hills Parkway and on Eucalyptus, as well.

A Carbon Canyon resident was quoted in the article as suggesting that "the signals [at Olinda] cause daily havoc and are the primary reason the afternoon traffic gridlock in Brea is so bad."

Without disagreeing that the signals did not help traffic flow at all, though their implementation is routinely cited in planning documents and in testimony and statements before commissions and councils as reflecting "traffic improvements" and as "traffic mitigation," it seems that the local focus belies the regional scale and scope of this problem.

Again, the biggest contributor to local traffic tie-ups and gridlock is not the signals, nor is it the volume of trucks, or road capacity, or traffic operations (which, by the way, went undefined).

Simply put, it is volume.

Huge numbers of new homes are being (and will be) built in south Chino, in south Ontario, in Eastvale, in Corona and in other places inland.  Many of the workers living in these places, because they are more affordable, are driving west.  Until that glorious era comes as the IE's economy "matures" (whatever that means), this will continue.

The second biggest factor is that this volume is overwhelmingly driven (literally) be single-passenger commuting.  That is, people are driving themselves to work, school and wherever they're going.

It's not just Carbon Canyon Road, obviously--this is Grand Avenue during a morning commute in October.

As has been said here before, this has got to change.  Period.  We can't accommodate 15 million or so people in the metropolitan area with all of the cars driven and occupied by one person, spewing all of the pollution (which is on the rise despite efforts to drive it down), and wasting all of that key productive time.

We can't expect there to be realistic, productive and transformative solutions without confronting this basic problem.

Yet, here again is a lack of recognition by planners, staff and elected officials that the only way to have the population we have in this region and then to responsibly transport them to where they need to go is to recalibrate our thinking about single-passenger commuting and the vastly pollutive internal combusion engine powered by fossil fuels.

Mass transit, be it large-scale carpooling, a wider and more coordinate network of buses (think dedicated roads solely for buses), as well as trains and subways has to be the major effort undertaken to deal with this problem.

The article indicated that, among the cited components of the study, are: limiting truck access and volume, roadway capacity (which is, actually, fixed and that's been known for decades already), collision history (which this blog used to focus heavily on), side street access and delay, and . . . wait for it . . . "potential traffic signals at some intersections".

So, yes, look forward to those signals going in at Fairway Drive and Canyon Hills Road, because this will be a traffic improvement and mitigation solution coming soon.

But, to beat a dead car (seems a better metaphor than the poor equines), where's the mention of regional planning for development, for the way people drive themselves around solo, for mass transit, and other related components that, if left out, make these studies largely irrelevant.

The Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon has 76 in-process homes here at Hillcrest, 28 more appoved at Stonecrest, and 100+ pending in an application at Hidden Oaks across from Hillcrest.  The larger problem are the tens of thousands of homes in the Inland Empire feeding much of the volume on Carbon Canyon Road.

A article-cited victory was the placing of signs along and near Carbon Canyon Road "advising" vehicles over 50 feet in length not to use the road.  Not to belittle those who took the time from their busy lives to work for that, but this observer has seen very little actual effect of this.  Big rigs and longer vehicles still routinely make use of Carbon Canyon Road.

The one publicized and concerted effort a few months ago by Chino Hills sheriff's deputies to ticket truckers for crossing the double-yellow line yielded a number of citations, but it has not stopped the problem and it won't.  As long as Carbon Canyon Road is State Highway 142, trucks cannot be prevented from using the road.

This blog had a post almost 6 years ago asking the question "Why is Carbon Canyon Road Still a State Highway?"  The same resident quoted above about the biggest factor in slow traffic on the Brea side of that road mentioned that "its classification as a state highway may not longer be appropriate."

Indeed, in this blog's post of 17 January 2011, the example was given of State Highway 39 on Hacienda Road through La Habra Heights.  The designation was, in fact, removed, and no longer applies to that two-lane winding road that goes through small canyons and ascends to a summit (sound familiar?).

Finally, the article concluded by noting that both Chino Hills and Brea are working to increase police patrolling, more frequently enforce traffic laws, and use electronic message boards as part of their efforts to deal with the problem.  There's nothing wrong with these and, if they could be done, when most dangerous driving and accidents occur, which is actually outside of commute times during late weekend hours (Friday and Saturday nights, for example,) that would be welcomed.

But, as Chino Hills is poised to approve another large housing project--the 100+ unit Hidden Oaks, across from the in-process 76-unit Hillcrest (and down the street from the approved 28-unit Stonecrest) and then claim that these volumes of residences (over 200, meaning probably 800-1000 people and many car trips from them) are insignficant because most traffic in Carbon Canyon is from outside the canyon, therein lies the rub, right?

A traffic study is fine and is probably needed.  But, if the expectation is that installing more traffic signals, targeting truck traffic, and implementing more acceleration/deacceleration lanes is going to do anything but replace the pinky with the ring finger as the hole in the dike widens because the water behind the dike represents massive traffic volume from unabated inland development--well, then what?

The big, big picture (the one that looks at climate change, population volume, outdated transportation methods, etc.) would seem to dictate that we have to fundamentally change many aspects of how we live if sustainability is achievable.

It is understandable, to a degree, that local analysis looks at the immediate situation in and around that area.  The problem, though, is that solutions really have to be bigger and broader than that.  Otherwise, whatever is done is either marginal, distractive, or insufficient.

We can't afford any of those.

For a society that put humans on the moon, mobilized an all-out war effort on two massive fronts during World War II, built the great educational system in the world, completed a huge interstate highway network, and so much more, the ability to improve regional planning for residential and commercial uses and for transportation to serve those is not impossible, though it's difficult.

As said here recently, it's a matter, fundamentally and substantially, of political, social and economic will.