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When traffic lights become a public hazard

When traffic lights become a public hazard

  • Updated

I live in Napa and have worked in St. Helena for the last twenty years. The drive to and from work using Highway 29 has changed over those years, and not for the better.

The drive on Highway 29 going south every afternoon has especially gotten worse around the part of the highway I began to call “Traffic Lights from Purgatory.” These lights can be found at intersections of Salvador and 29, Wine Country and 29, and Tower and 29. Besides being totally annoying, there is a very big safety issue that exists using the south-bound turn lanes.

For some reason, these turning lane lights, north- and south-bound, are not set to the same sequence, and that is where the problem begins. The south-bound turning lane has to wait for the end of the sequence, which allows the north-bound turn lane to fill with cars. When these cars fill the north-bound turn lane, the southbound turn lane is completely blinded to north-bound traffic, (which from experience, I can guarantee that traffic is not doing the posted speed limit of 50 mph).

Adding to the visibility problem, the northbound turning lane at Salvador intersection sits higher than the south-bound lane. It is just a matter of time that a major accident will occur.

What is strange, when I first started driving, all turning lanes were set to occur at the same time, then for some strange reason that stopped happening almost everywhere. I figured it must be some kind of new rocket science that they were teaching in the Traffic Light 101 class. At lower speed limits and better visibility, I never gave it much thought. But the restricted view and the high rate of speed that occurs at these intersections on Highway 29, (and a lot of time to think about it), well, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist.

Just concerned.

Jeff Telle


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