When CHP Slows Down Traffic, It Has Good Reason

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Dear Street Smart:

Several times while driving the freeways or highways through Ventura County, I have seen California Highway Patrol officers swerve across the lanes of traffic in an apparent attempt to slow down the drivers. We all slow down for a few miles before the officer shuts off his flashing light, speeds up and drives on.

Invariably, there is no accident or emergency up ahead, so what gives? Why do CHP officers slow down traffic and make us all late for no apparent reason?

Stacy Higgins

Silver Strand

Dear Reader:

According to longtime CHP dispatcher Claude Ball, who works at the Ventura office of the highway patrol, officers conduct a "traffic break" to give them room to safeguard freeways and highways from unsafe situations.

"We do it for Caltrans so they can fix a quick pothole," he said. "Or sometimes we do it to pick up a dead animal."

More often than not, it is nothing close to a car crash that calls for a traffic break, he said.

"Ninety-five percent of the time, it's not a traffic accident," Ball said. "It's because there's a traffic hazard in the road."

Dear Street Smart:

My question is about the sequencing of the signals at Telephone Road and Wells Road in Ventura.

When northbound Wells has a left turn arrow, eastbound Telephone has a right turn arrow. When Wells goes to red, so does eastbound Telephone. The westbound side of Telephone turns green when a car is present and then the eastbound side of Telephone turns green again.

This seems to interrupt the flow of eastbound traffic from Telephone onto Wells.

Would it be possible to have the westbound light at Telephone follow both of the eastbound sequences?

It seems like the flow of traffic would be smoother if the two eastbound green lights were not separated by the lesser-used westbound light.

Bill Tocci

Ventura

Dear Reader:

Guess what?

After about two minutes of checking his facts, Ventura's top traffic engineer agreed with you. By the time you read this, alterations in the signal sequence already will have been made, said Nazir Lalani.

"It's not a big thing, but it might make life easier," Lalani said.

As of last week, there is now a green arrow that turns to an amber arrow before changing to a green light, Lalani said.

The reason for the yellow arrow is to coordinate with the computers that operate the Caltrans-controlled intersections nearby. "Caltrans software requires that," he said.

Lalani said he would like more such suggestions in the future. "People need to let us know, so we can make these changes," he said.

Dear Street Smart:

The corner of Lynn Road and Mapleleaf Court in Thousand Oaks has me quite concerned.

The traffic along Lynn Road seems to be traveling at an excessive rate of speed. This, coupled with the visual obstacles one faces when trying to turn left onto westbound Lynn Road, makes it a potentially dangerous situation.

Can anything be done to reduce the speed on Lynn Road? Can the tree located on the island in the western side of Lynn Road be removed? Can a sign be put on Lynn Road for the cars traveling west alerting them that an intersection is ahead?

Some speed limit signs and some traffic speed enforcement seem to be warranted also.

Thanks for your attention in this matter.

Arlene Meyers

Agoura

Dear Reader:

After hearing your concerns, Thousand Oaks traffic officials pledged to investigate the intersection more thoroughly to determine if any improvements are needed at Lynn Road and Mapleleaf Court.

But traffic analyst Jeff Knowles said that study would take several weeks to complete.

"All of those things might be possible, but typically when we get a request like this we visit the scene and determine what is appropriate," he said.

"But there are very few typical intersections and we look at them on a case-by-case basis," he said. "It depends on what the crew finds."

As for slowing down traffic along Lynn Road, Sgt. Ken Bailey of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department said his officers might launch extra patrols in the area.

"That's a very minimum travel location," he said. "But if it's brought to our attention that there's a specific problem, then we'll address it through enhanced enforcement."

Bailey invites anyone with traffic enforcement concerns to report it to traffic officers at 494-8271.

Write to Street Smart, The Times Ventura County Edition, 93 S. Chestnut St., Ventura 93001. You may enclose a simple sketch if it will help Street Smart understand your traffic questions. Or call our Sound Off Line, 653-7546. Whether writing or calling, include your full name, address, and day and evening phone numbers. No anonymous queries will be accepted, and letters are subject to editing.

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