Caltrans tweaks 101 traffic signal

By Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate May 09, 2013 03:48 pm

Caltrans crews will be directing traffic at Last Chance Grade on U.S. Highway 101 today while workers modify the temporary traffic lights so they’ll adjust to the traffic flow.

The repairs come after the signals malfunctioned at the one-lane section of Last Chance Grade south of Crescent City at about 9:15 p.m. Monday, resulting in a flashing red light that confused motorists, according to Tamera Leighton, Executive Director of the Local Transportation Commission. 

With no one to direct traffic, some motorists proceeded through the traffic signals, with the southbound lane taking its turn after the northbound lane cleared, Leighton wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. Others didn’t want to risk a collision and waited until help arrived.

“The driver who contacted me said that after seeing this happen, she turned around and drove downhill to the first available call box,” Leighton said in the email. “The CHP told her there would be a traffic control officer on the way. She returned to the line of cars and shared her information with others. About 15 minutes later someone arrived. (The driver) stated she waited for nearly an hour through the entire process.”

After receiving a call from the CHP on Monday, Caltrans workers directed traffic to keep motorists moving and repaired the lights, according to spokesman Scott Burger. The lights were working again at about 10:30 p.m., Burger said.

Currently, the traffic signal at Last Chance Grade operates on a fixed timer, Burger said. Caltrans workers will be installing a new part in the signals that will allow them to synchronize with each other, he said. This will make the amount of time allotted for drivers to pass through the one-lane section dependent on the volume of traffic, Burger said.

Leighton said she brought the incident to the attention of CHP Lt. Mike Redel. She also contacted Mark Suchanek, Caltrans deputy district director for maintenance and operations, as well as city and county elected officials.

The Del Norte Local Transportation Commission meets at 11 a.m. today at the Flynn Administrative Center, 981 H St.

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