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No commuter ever enjoys stopping for red lights, but sitting through several light cycles or being stopped for no apparent reason can really get the blood boiling. Two readers asked about locations that bring lots of mail: Santa Rosa Avenue at Hearn Avenue, and Fountaingrove Parkway.

Santa Rosa Traffic Engineer Rob Sprinkle provides the explanations.

Question: What’s up with the lights at the Santa Rosa Avenue and Hearn overpass around 4 to 5 in the afternoon? I’ve seen it where the traffic coming down Hearn is backed up to the light at Dutton Meadow as well as the side streets and off ramp from 101.

The light just won’t change, and I have been there where we run the red for left turn onto Santa Rosa Ave. to go right and down the road to 101 on ramp or turn left at McDonalds. A cop told me it had to do with the sun going down and the light just not changing. If so, how come no cops to get it moving? — Forrest McCrossen

Answer: If a light doesn’t change, it doesn’t mean it’s malfunctioning.  It could be that the signal is coordinated with the adjacent signals or that a pedestrian hit the ped button, then decided to take another route (peds take a long time to cross).  It could be a host of things.  The sun would tend to put a call into the controller, not skip a direction.

We will check and verify that Hearn is working between 4-5 p.m.  This is a very heavy peak time that may be more related to the capacity of the intersection versus the detection.  But, we will definitely look into it.

Question: Is the City of Santa Rosa planning on fixing the traffic signals along the Fountaingrove Parkway that change to red for no reason? It’s quite frustrating to be going uphill and have to stop and lose momentum to wait for the light to turn green again.

One is at the entrance to the Agilent area.  That light constantly is red to traffic on Fountaingove and green for the street meeting Fountaingrove with no traffic exiting.  Then one side gets a green (with no traffic turning left), and the other side stays red for a bit longer.

The other signal is further up beyond this one, where it splits down to two lanes in each direction.  The first signal you meet almost is always red for no reason, and that’s why I mentioned momentum because that’s a steep incline, and starting from a dead start is rough. — Brian Webb

Answer: One of the key items for us is the time of day this is being experienced.  That helps us focus our time more effectively when trying to review the problem.  From the description, I think I know the two signals he is referring to. I will ask the tech to see if there is anything malfunctioning.  Sounds like the detector is sticking on the side street.

Still want more?

Read THIS STORY from the Road Warrior vault, an interview with Sprinkle about how Santa Rosa’s traffic lights work.

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