News

Caltrans won't finish Menlo Park repairs until mid-November; traffic jammed on El Camino

Traffic remains jammed

The Caltrans paving project that snarled Menlo Park traffic won't be complete until mid-November -- and neither will repairs to the traffic signal system.

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, said Chip Taylor, the city's public works director. While the crew has fixed the signals, the synchronization remains busted, leading to backed-up traffic for blocks during rush hour.

That might have happened anyway. Caltrans spokeswoman Gidget Navarro said that control loops, which handle signal synchronization, 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 jams now enjoyed by drivers in downtown Menlo Park.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Almanac Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Caltrans won't finish Menlo Park repairs until mid-November; traffic jammed on El Camino

Traffic remains jammed

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 10:05 am

The Caltrans paving project that snarled Menlo Park traffic won't be complete until mid-November -- and neither will repairs to the traffic signal system.

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, said Chip Taylor, the city's public works director. While the crew has fixed the signals, the synchronization remains busted, leading to backed-up traffic for blocks during rush hour.

That might have happened anyway. Caltrans spokeswoman Gidget Navarro said that control loops, which handle signal synchronization, 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 jams now enjoyed by drivers in downtown Menlo Park.

Comments

Hmmm
another community
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:01 am
Hmmm, another community
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:01 am
Like this comment

[Portion deleted...terms of use.] We'll look elsewhere for places to spend mivey until this situation has improved - realistically, perhaps in time for Christmas.


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm
Like this comment

Let's hope the weather holds. If it doesn't this won't get fixed until next year.


whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm
Like this comment

Don't shoot the messenger. BTW she's been with Caltrans since at least 2005.

More importantly will Caltrans be making safety improvements to the stretch between Encinal and Dumbarton? Perhaps signals and flashing sidewalks with proper lighting?

And while their at it how about returning to three lanes form Roble to Watkins.

How about it Gidget, give us some good news!


resident
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm
resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm
Like this comment

Caltrans is full of mularkey! "Probably would've happened" they f'd up now own it. Im avoiding there until february and they should compensate the business owners.


Dharma
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm
Dharma, Menlo Park: other
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm
Like this comment

CalTrans is not terribly interested in maintaining local roadways, its in the business of the Big Project. Their monument will be the (Chinese built) eastern span of the Bay Bridge due to open any year now. In San Mateo they are working w the city to respond to a two block back up at Poplar Ave on ramp - which the city after much study determined can be fixed for about $100,000 - by rebuilding the (recently built) adjacent Peninsula ramps instead including eminent domain for like $10 million. In Menlo they are looking at a full rebuild of Willow Rd/ 101 interchange because Willow backs up for 45 minutes twice a day but not the 1/2 mile back-up on south 101 at Woodside road that happens all day long. El Camino is just not worth these guys time. OK at least the freeways are flat and smooth.


LB
Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm
LB, Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm
Like this comment

Is there not a wireless solution available? There must be....


ame
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm
ame, Menlo Park: other
on Oct 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm
Like this comment

the first word that comes to mind is: IDIOTS!!!!


Donald
another community
on Oct 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm
Donald, another community
on Oct 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm
Like this comment

There is another solution - not wireless, but close. Many Palo Alto intersections along El Camino Real have video camera detection. The cameras are mounted on poles where they are immune to damage from roadway degradation and repair, and where they can be accessed without closing roads and without putting workers in danger from traffic. They have been in place for several years and seem to work quite well. Why has Menlo Park not asked for these to be installed?


Elderly driver
Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm
Elderly driver, Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm
Like this comment

Does this mean that the lights at Elder and Santa Cruz cannot be coordinated? Waiting 2 minutes for a light to change when no left turns
are being made seems a waste of time for all of us.


Norman
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm
Norman, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm
Like this comment

We ain't seen nothing yet. Wait until they get their hands on High Speed Rail. But it serves us all right. We elected these buffoons. We have met the enemy and he is us.


Hmmm
another community
on Oct 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Oct 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm
Like this comment

Norman - how does CalTrans have anything to do w/who we elect? Remember - many of the folks caught in traffic don't live in Menlo, or even the county.

And sheesh - what a bummer that I can't make fun of the name Gidget!


ron
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm
ron, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm
Like this comment

Might have happened anyway? Nice try but I don't buy it. Just plain carelessness/stupidity in my opinion.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.