Highway 154 that runs through the San Marcos Pass between Santa Barbara and Santa Maria is now closed to trucks hauling hazardous materials. The ban is designed to curtail truck traffic on the pass and was announced Monday by the California Highway Patrol and local government representatives, according to a report in the Santa Maria Times.
The move to ban hazmat trucks on the highway came in response to an Aug. 24, 2010, accident in which a fully loaded gravel truck lost its brakes descending Highway 154 toward Santa Barbara and ran into a home killing three people.
“It’s a great day because (the ban) is going to increase both the public health and public safety for the people of Santa Barbara County,” said County Supervisor Doreer Farr, who worked as a member of Santa Barbara County Assn. of Government’s Highway 154 Truck Safety Committee to get the ban in place. “It’s really going to reduce truck traffic on the pass.”
The gravel truck accident “really focused everyone’s attention on Highway 154 from a safety aspect,” Farr said. “We were hoping to get all trucks that didn’t have to make local deliveries banned from the road.”
Instead of a complete ban of trucks on the roadway, the committee worked with the CHP to get the administrative ban on trucks carrying hazardous materials over the highway, said Farr, who proposed the action to the Board of Supervisors.
“What this affects is commercial vehicles using that road as a through place of travel,” said CHP Officer Jeremy Wayland. “It won’t affect local deliveries, but it’s going to trim down truck traffic on the highway. We’ve paid strict attention to the trucks the past several years, but this will be another layer to our enforcement activity.”
Wayland said the CHP will actively enforce the truck ban and failure to adhere to the ban will result in a $500 first time misdemeanor fine.
CalTrans has also added signage to encourage truckers to avoid Highway 154, which the Times described as a “treacherous” highway.