California Legislature moves to ban trucks from Angeles Crest Highway

| 7/21/2009

A bill to ban large trucks along a Los Angeles County highway with grades as steep as 7 percent in some locations is headed to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk for his signature. The legislative action is welcome news for local truckers.

The effort is spurred by the death of a 12-year-old girl and her father when a truck traveling down a steep grade on state Route 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) struck vehicles and also a strip mall April 1 at Foothill Boulevard, where the highway dead-ends. Several others suffered injuries.

According to the Pasadena Star-News, brake problems were blamed for the double-deck car hauler striking the vehicles. The truck’s driver also allegedly ignored warning signs and used a route that is off-limits to heavy trucks.

Shortly after the incident Caltrans temporarily banned all trucks along the winding, two-lane mountain route to buy the Legislature time to approve a permanent ban.

The Senate voted 33-1 to approve the bill that would prohibit commercial vehicles with three or more axles or a gross vehicle weight of at least 9,000 pounds from SR 2 between Big Pines Highway and Interstate 210 in La Canada Flintridge, northwest of Pasadena. The Assembly then gave unanimous consent to Senate changes to the bill, clearing the way for AB1361 to advance to the governor’s desk.

Violators would face fines of at least $1,000.

Exceptions to the ban would be made for trucks delivering to or from locations within La Canada Flintridge or locations accessible only from SR 2. Vehicles involved in the production of television, movies and commercials also would be allowed to use the route.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, said action to ban trucks on the route is long overdue.

“The city has repeatedly asked Caltrans to prohibit truck traffic on SR 2 until necessary safety improvements to this state highway could be put in place,” Portantino said in a written statement.

He said since Caltrans has refused to either prohibit truck traffic or install necessary safety measures, it was time to pursue legislation to force their hand.

Truck drivers have grave safety concerns about trying to negotiate the treacherous canyon road.

Owner-operator and OOIDA member Tom Fidger of Littlerock, CA, said the highway is a useful shortcut between the Antelope Valley and Los Angeles, but truckers have to be smart about navigating through it.

“There are a lot of people over that road who pay attention to what they’re doing. They take their time and go through there at the speed limit or a little less. Then there are one, two or three knuckleheads out there who think they’re Mario Andretti, and it causes problems,” Fidger told Land Line.

Fidger said the highway is an asset. He would like to see improvements made to bring it up to modern standards and make it safer for truckers and others to navigate. But he acknowledged that the state’s current financial situation makes that unlikely.

“They need to do something with it, but the state is broke. The legislature has spent us into a hole,” he said.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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