Update August 14, 2013 -- This truck remains stuck at the side of the road a week later, with still no answers from authorities on who if anyone authorized this severely oversized load to travel this highway. Reportedly it was bound for Tecate and residents wantt o know why it didn't take the Otay crossing and avoid these mountainous roads.
By Miriam Raftery
Photos by Donnie Durfee
August 8, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)—A truck carrying an over-sized load has repeatedly become stuck on curves along Highway 94 between Dulzura and Tecata, causing a SIG ALERT that extended more than 20 hours. Residents reported seeing the slow-moving rig the past two nights, however, and Deerhorn Valley Antler Kim Hamilton reports the ordeal has been ongoing for 54 hours as of late tonight, forcing residents to take a detour of 70 to 80 minutes. As of 9:30 p.m. the highway remained shut down in both directions.
“Closure of our major evacuation route without notice would create a very dangerous situation in the event of evacuation. Fires happen at all hours and we ARE in the middle of a very dicey season,” Deerhorn Valley antler editor Kim Hamilton wrote. ECM shares her concern and has sent a request for information to the California Highway Patrol.
Equally disturbing, the CHP website quit updating its log at noon and dropped the incident off its incident page entirely this evening.
Area residents and media were not notified of this load, nor given any realistic timetable for clearing the jam. This morning, CHP reported the roadway should be opened at 10 a.m. One-way traffic was reopened briefly but later traffic in both directions was shut down.
Witnesses hae indicated that the load appeared to be larger than posted signs allow. So why was it there? Residents are seeking answers but say that thus far authorities have not provided this information.
While covering the 2007 Harris wildfire, I had to evacuate Barrett Junction hurriedly along 94 in this area. This is a very winding road in the Dulzura area, with hairpin mountain curves. Many people barely escaped with their lives as flames driven by 100 mph winds whipped the wiildfire, chasing motorists fleeing that blaze with fire consuming everything in its broad path. Had this roadway been occurred, there is no question in my mind that many lives would have been lost.
Fires are common in this area; several major blazes have occurred along the 94 corridor this year alone.
Besides wildfires, lives could also be endangered in the event of a medical emergency, such as the recent case of a child bitten by a rattlesnake who barely made it to a hospital in time.
ECM has sent an email noting the dangers posed to public safety to the California Highway Patrol and Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s office, requesting information and answers to the following questions, and will publish responses once received.
Why was this large rig allowed on 94?
Was it permitted? Please provide copies of all permits and related paperwork pursuant to the California Public Records Act.
If so why was this allowed and why was no notice provided to media or residents?
If not permitted, what will the penalty imposed be?
Who owns and who operates this rig?
What is it carrying and for what client?
Where is it going?
What project is this associated with?
Was this over the size limit, as it appears to be?
What will be done to prevent this from happening again?
Why has it taken so long to clear this (with still no end in sight?)
When will this road be cleared?
How will people be evacuated in case of fire—or would they just be trapped?
Why was residents’ safety endangered in this way?