Town Square

So what are those light on top of traffic lights on arastradero?

Original post made by John Walkjer, Gunn High School, on Jul 26, 2007

I was driving down arastradero and im thinking i entered the terman intersection as the light turned red. I wasnt sure what the rule was as to being in the intersection while the light was red so i called the police department. the woman who answered the phone said that palo alto did not use any such red light cameras. does anyone know what these cameras posted up and down arastradero, el camino, and foothill are used for?


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Posted by John Walkjer
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 26, 2007 at 7:29 pm

im sorry i meant what are those cameras on top of the lights

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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 26, 2007 at 9:27 pm

I vaguely recall something about that they are there to help advance the signals, but its a pretty fuzzy memory. ;^)

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Posted by Shannon
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2007 at 11:38 am

probably owned by cal trans

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Posted by bruce
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2007 at 9:32 am

They are most likely red light changing devices that are used by transit buses or fire engines. They hurry the light cycle to green for those vehicles.

The only other red lights mounted on signals I'm aware of are those synchronized with the red-yellow-green lights themselves. They are pointed away from the lights, and when the light turns red, they turn red. This makes it possible for a traffic officer to know when a car runs a light even though he is on a side street or down the street on the opposite side of the signal.

They are small, mounted high up and some are installed at Embarcadero and St. Francis Dr. I don't know the location of others although I think I'll check El Camino and Page Mill, a favorite red light running intersection.

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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Jul 31, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Maybe they're part of this Web Link system? You can view live traffic on certain Santa Clara County roads by clicking on the red dots on the map. These are in limited locations, though, so maybe the ones you're asking about are part of a different system.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2007 at 1:38 pm

These cameras serve two purposes: they replace the wires-in-the-ground detectors that indicate whether a car is waiting and they provide video cameras for VTA to monitor traffic movement. The old wires in the street were a maintenance nightmare and major roads that utilize sensors to control traffic lights are switching over to these "detection" cameras.

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Posted by Paly Resident
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 1, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I was wondering the same as I entered the intersection at Foothill/Arastradero on a yellow. I did not know the VTA monitored traffic via video...big brother!

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Big brother? Some of you folks are really paranoid. These sensors are only used to improve the flow of traffic. Most of them do not have enough resolution for any kind of identification of cars or people.

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Posted by just thinkin'
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Ya know the traffic reports you see on TV where they tell you how the traffic is flowing on city streets??? How do you think they know, psychics?