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Original post made
on Jan 9, 2012
How does one traffic signal equate to a $5,000 annual maintenance expense?
Will the light be synchronized with the East Meadow light?
Eucalyptus elves are required to polish our PA traffic signals. Those little fellers ensure that each lens is at its most brilliant. What with the lattes and egg salad sandwiches, their daily maintenance runs close to $14/day. The good news is that they eventually spontaneously drop dead on the job, so there are no retirement costs.
"Staff estimates that the new signal would have no impact on traffic flow on Alma Street"
How did they come up with this statement. If this light will be 600 feet from the East Meadow intersection and will have two phases (exiting the plaza and entering from southbound Alma, what will happen to traffic coming north on Alma that has a green light at East Meadow. AS Joey asks will the light be synchronized?
"no impact on traffic flow on Alma Street, which currently flows at the highest possible level during the morning and evening commute hours"
This presumably is one way of saying that traffic is backed up for a long time on Alma at the traffic signal at Meadow.
There is a very long merge lane on Alma going south just south of Alma plaza for traffic coming out of Alma plaza. This has always been empty. Just south where this merge lane ends, there is a very short left hand turn lane to go onto Meadow. Since the traffic at rush hour is always backed up at the Meadow light, cars that want to make a left turn cannot get into the left hand turn lane and miss a signal cycle. If a train comes along, the left hand turn misses a cycle also. This makes turning onto Meadow a very long process and many people avoid this by turning left from Alma before Alma plaza and go through the neighborhood streets.
I suggest as part of this project, the city decrease the length of the merge lane and increase the length of the left hand turn lane on Alma going south.
There's shopping at Alma Plaza?
One can only hope that a more educated engineering and planning is done so it's not another T&C fiasco!
Okay, if you look at the report it states:
" The fiber optic
connection will allow the City to monitor and manipulate traffic signal operations remotely
from the Cityâ€™s Traffic Operations Center located at the Municipal Service Yard. The hardwire
interconnect cable will ensure that the new traffic signal operates concurrently with the East
Meadow Drive traffic signal. "
Of course, we will see how it works in real life, since traffic tends to back up a bit at the intersection during rush hours, so not sure if there will be room for cars turning onto SB Alma to fit in. Be we shall see.
I predict that this is going to turn the "flow" into something like the mess currently available at the Town & Country El Cam/Embarcardero corner.
I can't imagine that we need another light just yards from East Meadow's light.
I do truly hope they do the job right in coordinating these lights with the existing ones. Alma is one of the few roads that actually flows pretty well. Yes it gets overloaded at rush hour and the train issues don't help, but it does flow. Adding a second light 600 ft from the current one that is already impacted by rail signals is an invitation to a fiasco. Please please please make the whole system work together.
Thanks for the laugh! Good way to start the week, especially after hearing about how the city is going to screw up traffic in a new place.
> I can't imagine that we need another light just yards
> from East Meadow's light.
This light is intended to reduce the number of possible traffic accidents that might occur for folks turning into/out of the shopping center. It is not otherwise needed to deal with Charleston flow.
> "Staff estimates that the new signal would have no impact
> on traffic flow on Alma Street"
This is most likely true. However, having hard numbers would help to cement the point. There is virtually no traffic on Charleston most of the day. There is a fair amount of traffic backup at the Charleston/Alma light from say 4:30PM to 6:15(ish). The only way this light could have an impact on Charleston would be if there were more cars turning right (to the north) onto Alma that would queue up, because of a Alma Plaza light, and cause a back up on cars trying to turn right on to Alma. But this is virtually an impossibility, with the exception of having traffic flow stopped for a long time when an accident occurs at the location of this new light.
We have enough traffic as it is. At certain times of the day I can barely get in/out of our driveway.
Geesh - pessimism and sarcasm are Palo Alto's new official colors.
Everyone knows the problem with the T&C/Paly intersection is the fact that there is a separate (student) cross-walk that is not synchronized with the rest of the signal lights in the area.
Why is it going to cost tax payers $5,000 a year to maintain this signal light? Does every traffic signal in town have the same maintenance cost? Very hard for me to believe.
> traffic light at Alma Plaza ..
This light came out of the "revolt" that occurred when the large shopping center expansion was proposed. It is nothing new .. although the 5K/year for "maintenance" is .. with LEDs being used for traffic lights these days, which are supposed to have upwards of a $100K hours of lifetime .. so with low power costs, and long life ... just what is the City doing for this $5K?
WELL, I see we got took to the cleaners AGAIN.
John McNellis, the plaza's developer should be paying for the "signal" NOW and FOREVER... Other NO SIGNAL!!!!!
So this is the most ridiculous thing I have heard since the other light right by Paly High and T&C. Can our transportaion team not think of another option, what the hell do we pay them for? It was a shopping center along time before and there was no light. Really I think all our city does is put in light and or reduce lanes. Welcome to traffic hell
I agree that the new Alma Plaza will require some traffic reconfiguration but I don't think just putting in another stop light is a good idea for many reasons.
A much better idea would be to make the Meadow/Alma intersection a "super intersection" with one light configuration to prevent traffic getting stuck twice or large amounts of traffic getting between the lights and preventing other traffic from moving when they have a green light.
This should have been done at Town and Country with a six way light configuration at the intersection of ECR and Embarcadero with T&C and Paly both moving their exits to the corners to enable a six way configuration super intersection.
I am glad to see that the Mitchell Park light will no longer be one of these two separate light configurations, which only caused confusion and frustration although on a much smaller level
> Can our transportaion team not think of another option
You were thinking of maybe a bridge overpass or an under pass? That would cost a bit more.
> It was a shopping center along time before and there was no light
True enough, and I would occasionally shop there or have Pizza. It was difficult to leave (turning left on Alma) at certain times of day and there's more traffic now.
Traffic on Alma is typically 10 mph over the speed limit. Alma could use more lights to slow the traffic down
A little off the subject. The Alma Plaza shopping center is already looking terrible.
How come the structure that is going up is built right up to the sidewalk? It already is an eyesore.
"It already is an eyesore."
And the derelict, abandoned shopping center that the "neighborhood leaders" and "friends groups" prevented from being developed was not an eyesore??? We could have had a nice dedicated shopping center, but thanks to DJ, JH and LF this is what we got.
I agree with "neighborly" -- it is an eyesore and very imposing with it's footprint pushed all the way to the sidewalk. I can only hope the plans for external design (stone, or??) will offset the hunky, cement look currently shown. Svatoid -- it's not a matter of comparison to the abandoned center, but rather if it's build to blend and or add architectural interest to the neighborhood. Not looking good so far, but will reserve judgement until the job is complete.
Obvious solution - overpasses at Meadow and Charleston.
Not sure why neighborly is upset. Weren't the plans with illustrations available to the public?
I can buy the no impact on traffic flow as it will just ask a few cars to stop a bit early to leave space for cars to slip into Alma from the shopping center. This can clearly be done within one of the cycles of the signal at Meadow. But $5000 a year? If a single traffic light is about 20 cents a day and say there are 6 lights (2 in each direction) and say 60 cents for the controller per day so let's round up to $2 a day for the lights. Add some bulb replacement and let's say $1000 a year. Maybe the other $4000 is to replace the pole when some drunk knocks the damn pole over.
Developer wants traffic light and tells city to make it so.
It is done.
My guess: the $5k/year includes electricity, insurance (for repairs after traffic accidents), and perhaps a budget for replacement/upgrades when the service life of the light ends.
A traffic light system is more than a few lightbulbs. There are sensors to detect traffic and controllers to switch the lights based on sensor input. The sensors are exposed to the elements and subject to damage and failure, and the controllers must meet extremely high standards for reliability and fail-safe operation. To make sure they meet those standards requires periodic testing. They are costly systems to install and maintain.
The best approach in Palo Alto is to never make any changes or improvements. Just assume that the year is 1959 forever. That way the old timers won't get mad.
Definitely not a fan of the "building right up to the sidewalk" style of building. See this in Sunnyvale too.
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