Tollway Does a Good Turn for Wrongly Billed Driver
Dear Street Smart:
My friend and I recently traveled to the Philharmonic Design House using the Foothill Tollway. We understood the cost was $1 per car. My friend deposited four quarters and the gate opened. One week later, my friend received a less-than-conciliatory letter saying she owed 25 cents.
Our questions are: Is the toll $1.25? Why did the gate open if we hadn’t deposited enough money? Do coins sometimes become lodged in the rim of the coin basket?
Maralyn A. Moe
The toll is indeed $1, according to Paul Glaab, a spokesman for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which run the tollway. Most likely, he said, the letter your friend received asking for an additional 25 cents was an error stemming from a mechanical malfunction.
“I have absolutely no explanation,” he said. “Our system is almost 100% foolproof, but any time you have anything mechanical, you will on occasion have some sort of malfunction.”
Glaab said he is not aware of coins becoming lodged in the rim of the coin basket, but couldn’t rule out that possibility.
If your friend will send him a letter indicating the date, time and point at which you entered the toll road, as well as a vehicle license number and address, Glaab said, he will make things right by: refunding the extra quarter if she has already paid it or removing her name from any violators’ list she might be on.
“We recognize that these are our customers, and we have been very proactive in being customer oriented,” he said. “We certainly want to ensure that her experience is a good one.”
Tell your friend to send her letter to: Paul G. Glaab, P.O. Box 28870, Santa Ana, CA 92799-8870.
Dear Street Smart:
Why is there both a stop sign and a flashing red signal at the end of the new Bake Parkway southbound offramp at the El Toro Y? During the evening rush, this results in a half-mile backup of vehicles waiting on the offramp for no good reason.
There is no cross traffic at the end of the offramp--no cross traffic is even possible from the right because Bake dead-ends into a farm field, and no cross-traffic comes from the left because those vehicles are all forced onto the northbound Santa Ana-San Diego onramp. Yet vehicles exiting at Bake are forced to wait for this nonexistent cross-traffic.
The Sand Canyon exit of the southbound San Diego Freeway has the same left-turn only, no cross-traffic configuration, but there is no stop sign and no signal. Given this precedent, why can’t the forced stop at the Bake exit be removed until cross-traffic exists?
The stop sign is meant for trucks hauling materials into and out of the area during construction on the El Toro Y, according to Pam Gorniak, a Caltrans spokeswoman. Its purpose is to warn truckers of possible cross-traffic in the form of other trucks using the adjacent contractor’s base yard, and it should be ignored by general traffic, which is governed by the street signal.
As for the long lines of traffic, Gorniak said, the situation was recently improved by the replacement of the flashing red light with a regular timed traffic light.
“There’s now a long green with a short red to accommodate any cross traffic,” she said. “Traffic on Bake Parkway is moving quickly and efficiently.”
Dear Street Smart:
I’ve always wondered why we see "+" or “x” painted on streets. What does that mean?
The funny markings are for use in aerial photography, according to Albert Miranda, a spokesman for Caltrans.
To plan for construction projects, he said, Caltrans periodically photographs the entire state highway system from the sky.
“That way we are better able to program our projects by knowing what existing conditions there are or what we might encounter nearby,” Miranda said.
The painted white "+" markings--generally about 36 inches long and 3 inches wide--measure the distance between specific points on an aerial photograph. By placing them at measured intervals along a road, Miranda said, engineers studying the photograph can gauge the distances between objects.