The bill was authored by State Sen. Tom Torlakson. The double fine law will begin Jan. 1, 2007, and will remain in effect for three years.
"I wholeheartedly believe that double fine zones combined with additional signs and extra California Highway Patrol enforcement can lower the number of accidents and fatalities on our roads," Torlakson said. "This is exactly what we are trying to accomplish on Vasco Road."
Torlakson added, however, that passage of the bill is only a temporary solution to making the road safer. The Senate Select Committee on California Infrastructure will hold a special meeting in the Brentwood City Council Chambers Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 10 a.m. to discuss ways of financing a median barrier, which Torlakson insists is the only long-term safety solution.
"I'm thrilled he (Schwarzenegger) has changed his perspective," said Brentwood Councilwoman Annette Beckstrand, who is also a member of the Vasco Road Safety Task Force and attended the signing in the governor's office. "We know we need to do more, but the funds aren't available right now. But this is a positive step forward."
Brentwood City Councilman Bob Taylor, who also was present at the signing, shares Beckstrand's enthusiasm for the double-fine law.
"This is significant to the entire region," Taylor said. "I think it will help save a lot of lives."
Task Force member Jeff Altman was also on hand for the signing, and said it was an example of "focusing on what we can do, not what we can't do." According to Altman, an incremental approach to installing a median barrier, focusing on the most dangerous portions of the road first, could help save more lives sooner. "A lot of things, from stupidity to circumstance, can be prevented by a barrier," he said.
SB3 was approved by the legislature last year, but Torlakson withdrew it after being informed that the governor would veto it. Last week's quadruple fatality on Vasco provided Torlakson the opportunity to bring it back in an atmosphere of increased urgency.
"I really admire (Torlakson's) diligence on this," Altman said. "He's got a tough job on his hands. There were a lot of bills on (the governor's) plate today."
Since 2000 there have been 16 fatalities on Vasco Road in Contra Costa County. Torlakson and other public officials believe that the busy commute corridor, used by more than 22,000 vehicles daily, is one of the most dangerous roads in California.
- Rick Lemyre contributed to this story.