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Williams Introduces Assembly Bill to Restrict Trucks on Highway 154

The legislation, which calls for prohibiting large commercial rigs on the route, comes on the heels of months of discussions about safety concerns

Assemblyman Das Williams has introduced legislation to restrict trucks on Highway 154, six months after the driver of a gravel-hauling rig lost control of the brakes and plowed through a cottage on Upper State Street, killing a family of three inside.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments asked for state legislation to restrict trucks on the two-lane, windy highway after months of discussing safety concerns.

The bill would prohibit commercial vehicles with three or more axles or a gross weight of 9,000 pounds or more from using the portion of Highway 154 between Highway 246 around Santa Ynez to the north and the City of Santa Barbara intersection to the south, where it ends at State Street. The bill would require signage notifying drivers of the new restrictions.

Violating those rules would result in either a fine based on the weight of the vehicle or $1,000, whichever is greater.

AB 537 would appropriately restrict these large trucks from using Highway 154 and endangering local residents who use the road for local trips, all while protecting the demand to maintain local deliveries along that route,” Williams said in a news release issued Tuesday.

Late last year, Caltrans placed signs on Highway 101 just before the northbound and southbound entrances to Highway 154, recommending that trucks don’t take the latter route. It also placed “rumble strips” and more reflectors on the median lines to quickly alert people if they cross the line separating northbound from southbound traffic.

Increased use of GPS units could contribute to more inexperienced use of Highway 154, since the devices often show the route will shave a few minutes off the destination time.

The California Highway Patrol also has said that truck-related collisions are usually caused by unsafe speeds, turning movements or braking problems, and officers have stepped up enforcement efforts and inspections.

County Supervisor Doreen Farr has long expressed concerns with the highway and is also pushing for a ban of hazardous materials being transported over San Marcos Pass.

“As a resident of the Santa Ynez Valley, I drive Highway 154 on almost a daily basis and have witnessed too many incidents where large trucks cross the median line of the highway, putting motorists at serious risk,” she said in the news release. “We are taking proactive steps locally working with Caltrans and the CHP to improve safety on Highway 154, but Assemblymember Williams’ legislation restricting trucks on Highway 154 is also necessary to protect the safety of local residents who must use Highway 154.”

Click here for the full text of the bill.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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