Authorities announced Monday that trucks carrying hazardous materials are no longer allowed to travel Highway 154. With Supervisors Doreen Farr and Janet Wolf at his side, along with the mayors of Goleta and Solvang, Assistant Chief Scott Howland of the California Highway Patrol’s Coastal Division Office said that this marked the completion of a process put in motion in December 2010. In August of that year, a truck careened off of the 154 — commonly known as the San Marcos Pass — and crashed into a home on State Street, killing three residents. Since then Santa Barbara County officials have been stepping up efforts to improve safety along the highway. “All of us represent constituents who are disturbed by accidents and incidents along route 154,” said Wolf.
Hazardous waste was already not allowed on route 154, but now all hazardous materials fall under the ban. Trucks delivering HazMats to locations along the route will be exempt from the new restrictions, but all other trucks marked as carrying dangerous materials will have to use Highway 101 or else face hefty penalties: $500 and up to 60 days in prison. Howland noted that with additional fines, first-time offenders could be charged up to $1,900. He also noted that the truck route map has been updated to reflect the new policies.
“This is really a great day for Santa Barbara County,” Farr said. “Now the volume of large trucks will be reduced, and drinking water from Lake Cachuma will be ensured.” Farr also noted that the CHP was “fantastic to work with” and thanked her colleagues for support. “I live in the Santa Ynez Valley. I travel the pass all the time,” she said, adding a personal touch to her remarks. Wolf emphasized the importance of safe driving along the San Marcos Pass, saying, “We also want to remind the public the importance of driving safely, slowly, and being attentive. That’s more important than anything else.”
Howland ended with a reminder that CHP’s “Arrive Alive” program would be continuing through the end of September, allocating additional officers for patrol and checkpoints along the 154, focusing on DUIs and unsafe passing. Like Wolf, Howland added that safe driving was paramount, saying that the 154 “is a windy mountain roadway, and it should be driven as such.”