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Schwarzenegger signs bill permanently banning big rigs on Angeles Crest Highway, other legislation

Five months after a runaway truck killed two people and injured 12 in La Canada Flintridge, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed into law a permanent ban and steeper fines on big rigs using the Angeles Crest Highway.

The truck ban was one of 140 bills signed or vetoed today by the governor as he cleared his desk of legislation that had been delayed as lawmakers grappled in recent months with the state’s budget problems.

After a series of runaway truck accidents including one April 1 that killed a father and his 12-year-old daughter, Caltrans imposed a temporary ban on commercial trucks using the steep roadway, but that ban was set to expire today.

With the governor’s signature, Caltrans workers were out today replacing temporary signs with permanent ones detailing the ban, according to Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), who authored the bill.

“There was never a reason for big rigs to use this narrow, steep road that ended in our quiet town,’’ Portantino said. “Knowing that we now have a formal and lasting truck ban will put our citizens at ease and is the first step to ensuring we never experience the pain and fear caused by a runaway truck.”

AB 1361 bans commercial vehicles with three or more axles, or weighing more than 9,000 pounds from State Route 2 between the city of La Canada Flintridge and County Route N2 in Los Angeles County, but also allows a fine of at least $1,000 for drivers caught with rigs over the weight limit.

Without the bill, drivers who went over the weight limit by 1,000 pounds or less could be fined as little as $20.

Schwarzenegger also signed into law AB 96, which provides independent gas station owners with $8 million in grants and loans to pay for installation of enhanced vapor recovery systems required by the state. Gas station owners had complained the cost of the new requirement, which averages about $50,000 per station, could put many of them out of business.

“While it is important that we move forward with policies aimed at reducing air pollution, it is just as important to ensure our economy is protected along the way,’’ Schwarzenegger said in announcing he signed the bill.

He also put his signature on two bills that will give law enforcement more resources to monitor and prosecute sex offenders and sexually violent predators.

SB 583 requires the Department of Justice to record the type of residence at which registered sex offenders reside so law enforcement, licensing authorities and others can cross-check residences, while SB 669 provides that a sexually violent predator’s refusal to participate in treatment can be considered evidence in a jury trial to show that his condition has not changed.

Schwarzenegger said: "We will be able to better monitor and prosecute sex offenders and sexually violent predators to the fullest extent of the law -- making our streets safer from these dangerous predators.”

-- Patrick McGreevy, in Sacramento

 
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