74 Traffic Lights to Stay Bright in Blackout

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Anticipating the series of rolling blackouts that officials fear may bedevil Southern California this summer, Laguna Niguel has installed battery backup systems to keep its 74 traffic signals operating in the event of power interruptions.

The South County city may be the first in Orange County to do so, according to officials.

"We are very proud to be the first and only Orange County city to complete [a] battery backup system for all of our traffic signals," Mayor Cathryn DeYoung said in a press release. "Laguna Niguel is strongly committed to improving public safety."

The mayor and other city officials couldn't be reached for comment Saturday.

The city's action, at a cost of about $327,000, comes as concerns grow about traffic safety if there are power outages. Many accidents in recent months have been blamed, at least in part, on blackouts.

"People are not paying attention," Orange County Sheriff's Investigator Steve Doan said during one recent blackout, believed to have contributed to several accidents on Oso Parkway, Cabot Road and Aliso Creek Road in Laguna Hills.

"They do not even look at these signals. . . . It's just mind-boggling, going through intersections at 55 miles an hour without a signal."

If there are rolling blackouts, the backup battery systems will keep seven of Laguna Niguel's traffic signals at key intersections fully operational and another 67 signals will flash red, the press release states.

The seven signals are at Crown Valley Parkway and Forbes Road; Crown Valley and Cabot Road; Crown Valley and Greenfield Drive; Crown Valley and Street of the Golden Lantern; Avery Parkway and Camino Capistrano; Paseo de Colinas and Camino Capistrano; and Paseo de Colinas and Golden Lantern.

Motorists approaching the intersections that flash red will be expected to stop and wait their turns before proceeding.

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