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CalTrans Traffic Light Malfunction Snarls Thursday Morning Traffic
Posted Date: 4/24/2014

East BlithedaleCalTrans Traffic Light Malfunction Snarls Thursday Morning Traffic – City Upgrading Its Traffic Light System May 5

A malfunctioning traffic light on Tiburon Boulevard on the Highway 101 overpass snarled traffic out of Mill Valley for nearly two hours Thursday morning, with Mill Valley Police officers alerting both CalTrans and the California Highway Patrol of the problem to jumpstart a comprehensive response.

Officers reported at approximately 8:30 a.m. that traffic light for the northbound Hwy. 101 off-ramp had malfunctioned, causing the light on the eastbound East Blithedale Avenue to start flashing red, inciting motorists to treat the light like a stop sign, according to MVPD Lt. Ken Dunkel.

Alerted of the incident by Mill Valley officers, CHP officers responded immediately to direct traffic. The malfunctioning traffic light on eastbound East Blithedale at Hwy. 101 backed up traffic almost all the way into downtown Mill Valley as well as onto northbound Camino Alto, Dunkel said. Traffic out of Mill Valley began to clear at around 10:15 a.m., Dunkel said.

“CHP was great in getting the traffic moving,” he added.

City Manager Jim McCann said that the City intends to make a formal request to CalTrans to repair and improve its traffic signal equipment “to provide a much more substantial, fail-safe system, as well as a highly reliable back-up power system to address power interruptions.”

The City’s request of CalTrans to improve its equipment comes in advance of the City’s plans to upgrade its own system on May 5.

The City operates six traffic lights, stretching from Camino Alto and Miller Avenue out to East Blithedale Avenue at Tower and Kipling drives. Caltrans operates the traffic lights on either side of the Hwy. 101 overpass, as well as the one that connected to the Redwood Hwy/Frontage Road on the Strawberry side of the highway.

The City’s upgrades, which are being funded by the Program for Arterial System Synchronization (PASS) to the tune of $50,000 in services and equipment, involve installation of three GPS clocks along East Blithedale Avenue and Camino Alto, which will allow the City’s traffic light system to communicate better with that of CalTrans.

The City and Caltrans are also changing the timing of the traffic lights to reduce backups along those roads by lengthening the time that lights stay green, particularly for outbound drivers along Camino Alto and East Blithedale. As a result of the changes, some side streets will experience slightly higher delays depending upon the time of day.

Click here for more on the City’s traffic signal improvements, and go here to provide input on those upgrades after May 5.

City of Mill Valley residents also are encouraged to sign up for e-notification blasts for traffic updates and a range of topics.