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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading your blog.
You have a gift for research.
History can reveal much. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
You spoke something very prophetically in one of your posts.
" Hills do not do .... people do. Or something to this effect.

I too was once called to a chapter of my life in Chino Hills.
It was at the time leading up to the incorporation and the mayhem which followed.

You are getting to see the effects not due to the hills but as a result of the people responsible for the development of the Chino Hills specific plan along with those who led the charge to incorporate as a City.

This had to happen! Several reasons for this rat line of events. First was to be able to hide the clandestine bodies, second to preserve the things which had been historically done in them thare Hills.

Here is a clue. Dig deep in the biblical name which correlatestothe areasfirst restaurant.( you mentioned iton a post)

Drill down in to the Aerorjet history to get a profile of the key players and who they followed for inspiration in developing war tools. Try to find out why they moved to Chino Hills?

Make sure you moderate this post and it would be best for you to not ever mention these things to anyone.

If led you may contact me so as to hear my story.

Good luck with your pursuit of justice, which will be almost impossible to get this side of heaven in the Cityof Chino Hills.

Kind Regards