Caltrans has launched a feasibility study to address the S-curves on Carbon Canyon Road, with the goal of increasing safety without impeding traffic flow.
Residents have been raising concerns for years that a growing number of big rigs are traversing the road and getting stuck in the S-curves, causing traffic accidents and tie-ups.
Officials from Caltrans met with the Chino Hills Public Works Department two weeks ago for preliminary discussions.
On April 12, a Freightliner truck pulling a 53-foot long trailer crossed the double yellow lines near Azurite Drive and collided with a Chevrolet Sedan driven by 29-year-old Chris Barry.
Mr. Barry, a resident of Olinda Village in Brea who was heading to work, said due to the sharpness of the curve, he only had two or three seconds after seeing the truck to realize the rear axle was about to hit him.
The trees and bushes along the curve prevented him from seeing the truck any sooner, he said.
“I hit the brakes and laid on the horn, but it didn’t provide enough warning to the driver,” he said. Not able to go anywhere else without running off the road, his vehicle was dragged 20 feet back.
“By God’s grace, I walked away with only body bruises and aches,” Mr. Barry said.
David Matza, external affairs chief for Caltrans District 8, said one of the agency’s top priorities is to address the truck traffic and S-curves.
A feasibility study began in late March/early April, he said.
Project alternatives will be developed so that the best approach can be selected. “It will be a long process,” he said. “We don’t want to make it worse.”
He could not predict a timeline.
Councilman Ray Marquez said Caltrans must look at all options before a determination can be made on truck traffic.
“Two of those options are either straightening or widening the S-curves,” he said.
Mr. Marquez said he would not support the taking of property from those who live along the S-curves, a concern expressed by residents who said there is not enough room to widen the curves.
“My main intention is to eliminate truck traffic through Carbon Canyon Road,” he said.
The Freightliner truck driver involved in the accident was cited for crossing the double yellow lines, according to the Chino Hills Police Department that posted a photo of the incident on its Facebook page.
The frightening photo generated another round of outrage from residents.
Mr. Barry, a logistics and supply chain manager for a steel company in Riverside, said he works with trucks and truck drivers daily and understands how difficult their jobs can be.
“I have no ill will towards the driver,” he said. “I do believe this specific driver made mistakes that led to the accident, but I can’t imagine the guilt the driver must be going through and I hope he is doing OK.”
Mr. Barry said he was going 15 to 20 miles per hour and he estimated the driver was going roughly the same speed.
The City of Chino Hills was advised by Caltrans in 2014 that for trucks to be addressed, both Brea and Chino Hills would have to get involved since Carbon Canyon Road traverses San Bernardino and Orange counties.
Brea is in the jurisdiction of Caltrans 12 and Chino Hills in in the Caltrans 8 district.
Each city then submitted resolutions to Caltrans requesting a ban of truck traffic.
The two cities shared the costs of a $70,000 road study that suggested specific improvements including banning tractor-semis over 30 feet from kingpin to rear axle.
Caltrans posted signs stating that trucks more than 50 feet in length are not advised on certain sections of the road.
The April 12 incident put a human face on the accident statistics of Carbon Canyon Road.
Mr. Barry has a wife and two children, ages 4 and 8 months old. “When the accident happened, images of my two sons raced through my mind and the thought that I would never see them again,” he said.
He remembers thinking, “please stop,” as his vehicle was dragged.
“I am so thankful that I was able to walk away, by the grace of God,” Mr. Barry said.