Invisible Trajectories

CA Route 30 Part 2

Rambling on Route 30

On Saturday, August 26th, Deena, Mark, and I headed out on foot from the Cucamonga studio to find and walk the closed segments of California Route 30, aka Highland Ave. Deena and I had met with Jon Gillespie, a traffic engineer for the City of Rancho Cucamonga, a few weeks earlier, and he filled us in on the controversy associated with the closing of the route. Before we left, he gave us a very large stack of documents: everything from newspaper clippings to a large document called the Rancho Cucamonga Citizens’ Report Re: Highland Road Closure prepared by a group opposed to the route’s reopening.

Deena grew up in Rancho Cucamonga and she remembered what an important traffic artery Rt. 30 once was. After talking with Gillespie, we decided to see what all the fuss was about. The difficult part, however, was just finding and accessing the close portion.

At 1:30pm, after eating at Soup Plantation, the three of us hit the road. We walked down Amethyst, passing new housing construction on the left and a new fire station on the right. We crossed the 210 and soon found ourselves on top of Highland Ave. To our left was a dead end and to our right was a fenced-off area just beside the freeway where the house of Sam Maloof once stood. Signs of his old grove were still present. I stopped to take a few pictures.

We continued on, passing a few gated communities on our left and one large sound wall that followed us on our right. The first 45 minutes of our walk was along the widest portion of Highland. It seemed empty. We saw what we believed was a new high school. Its large athletic field had signs posted to discourage golfers.

A boy with a sign was in our path at one point. I asked to take his picture. He obliged and we moved on.

When we came upon Hermosa we noticed the name of the street we were on had changed. It was no longer Highland. Undeterred, the three of us crossed the street at the intersection and headed to the service station at the corner of a strip mall. Deena used the restroom, Mark purchased a drink, and I talked with a fellow pumping gas about the location of our missing route. He was helpful, though a bit uncertain. We needed to cross the 210 again and head south. Route 30 would be on the left, but it would be hard to get to.

As we crossed the bridge over the freeway, we looked down towards the left. There it was, hidden between two sections of the sound wall. We walked across the on-ramp and trudged through the dry grasses toward our entrance point. It took us about fifteen minutes to get from the ramp to the opened gate. It was as if someone was waiting for us. I must say that I was worried the entire time. I was thinking that the CHP would spot us walking along the freeway and stop us before we got onto the road.

Worries aside, we did make it. Route 30 was wide open and deserted. The neighborhoods that fought for its closure were on our right. Dogs barked at us from behind walls, but they didn’t keep us from our mission. We walked at a good clip, stopping only to look at a section of k-rail and another fence that had been erected to keep people out.

At one point in our journey, the three of us had to slither under a fence. It seemed much too hard to climb over so we decided to go under it. Another half-mile later we came to section of k-rail covered in odd faces and slogans. “Stop, Look, Listen” was scrawled on one section of guardrail, another slogan declared: “STOP BUSH.” Minutes later we were peering into a backyard and clearing away vegetation from an entrance marker. We were entering Victoria Grove, one of the most vocal neighborhoods in the fight to keep Route 30 closed.

Once again, we were faced with climbing another fence, but this time there was no option to go under. The three of us made it over easily and soon we were passing an array of ‘ROAD CLOSED’ signs. We turned left on Kenyon, passed housing developments on our left and right, and headed to a Taco Bell to get a drink. After a short chat we were back on the road.

We left the shopping center and headed east. Soon we came upon a winding path that meandered north. We took it. Five minutes later we were back on another section of Route 30, but this part was open to the public. Moving on, we headed to Deer Creek, taking a right onto a dirt path behind another new housing development. We followed that to the old railroad bridge. I had crossed this bridge about a year and a half ago during one of our initial excursions along the P.E. Trail. This time, however, it was blocked off with a new metal fence. It didn’t stop us. We climbed it, all three of us.

The last third of our journey was undertaken on a long stretch of the soon-to-be-constructed Pacific Electric Trail. Our trio walked for about another hour. Housing developments sat on both sides of the walls, and as before, everything seemed deserted. It was only 90 degrees so some homes had their windows opened. Usually, everything is shut up tight and the sound of running air conditioners is all one hears. Occasionally, we could hear a TV on, and sometimes, if we listened close, we would hear children laughing. For all of the dirt trails and paths we were walking on, we saw absolutely no kids. Where were they? Perhaps they were all inside playing video games or updating their MySpace pages.

When we passed Central Park, Deena pointed out an old overgrown vineyard. Surprisingly, some grapes were growing on the vine. We stopped to eat some, being careful not to swallow the numerous seeds.

As we got closer to Alta Loma, the walls were a patchwork of sections of freshly painted-over graffiti. Things were quieter. Soon we were passing by a mobile home park on our left. And on our right was another old vineyard.

By 6:00pm we were exhausted. Mark was bringing up the rear and was no longer clicking-off photos. We arrived at the studio about 4.5 hours after we left.

It was quite unusual to walk on a large section of urban infrastructure that a small part of the population has deemed problematic. A small interest group has denied access for the larger population, but then again it will be open to those on foot, eventually. Apparently, we are in a new urban age where mobility and access are not the foundations of citizenship.

All day I kept thinking of those ‘last man on earth’ movies and books. It seemed as if we were in another world for much of the day. We traversed a large portion of Rancho Cucamonga, but we had little contact with other humans. We clearly found another network of invisible trajectories. More later. --CW