http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/10/17/menlo-park-traffic-jam-expected-to-last-weeks


Almanac

News - October 17, 2012

Menlo Park traffic jam expected to last weeks

by Sandy Brundage

Lately it's taking almost an hour to drive from one end of Menlo Park to the other along a two-mile stretch of El Camino Real during commute hours. Drivers sit staring at green lights and motionless traffic, wondering what's going on.

Now they know. Caltrans has yet to finish repairing the damage from an Oct. 1 mishap. A work crew accidentally severed the electrical lines that feed into the traffic light system at the intersection of El Camino Real and Santa Cruz Avenue, according to Chip Taylor, the city's public works director.

He told the Almanac that while the lights are now working, the communications line that allows for synchronization of signals along the corridor remains broken. The repairs won't be finished for another two to three weeks, Mr. Taylor said.

Or longer, according to Caltrans. Spokeswoman Gidget Navarro said the control loops, which handle communications, are routinely damaged during the grinding that takes place during a paving project, according to the agency's engineers. "This is the procedure in any paving job," she said. "After they do grinding, they'll pave and then do the loops and striping simultaneously sometime next month, probably mid-November."

There are 16 control loops for each side of the street. Repairs require more specialized equipment and time than the traffic signal lines, Ms. Navarro said. Right now the signals are on a timer; without functional loops, the lights can't adjust "on demand" to the amount of traffic — a situation leading to the snarled intersections now enjoyed by drivers in Menlo Park.

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