Followup: Admiral/California traffic signal problem being solved?

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A followup to our most recent item about citizens complaining to the city regarding backups at the Admiral/California intersection – Tim e-mailed SDOT and got this reply from engineer Chris Faulkner – same person whose responses were shared by commenters – indicating they’ve figured out the problem:

I stand behind my timing and believe that it is working well. Unfortunately, because of malfunctions, my timing has not always been running and the signal has been working erratically. Every time that I had been out to observe it everything was worked well, within the past 3 weeks I have spent three PM Peaks and two AM Peaks at this intersection, verifying that everything is working. On my last trip the signal began skipping phases and traffic backed up very badly, like the complaints that I have been receiving. Because I was at the intersection to observe it, I was finally able to diagnose the problem and we are working on a solution.

Currently, we believe the problem was an underlying problem with the electronics and when we installed the new timing it exasperated the problem. Since last Wednesday, the intersection has been placed in a different mode, kind of like a windows safe mode. In this mode the intersection cannot skip phases, but it also cannot run coordinated timing. The consequence of this mode was that the intersection is working tolerable well during off peaks, but horrible during AM and PM Peak times. I apologize for this and want you to know that we are doing everything that we can to correct these problems. We plan on changing out some of the electronics later today in an attempt to address the problem and hope to put it back into my timing after that and observe it over the next few days to see if we have corrected the malfunctioning equipment.

Admiral/California drivers, let us know if things do get better!

28 Replies to "Followup: Admiral/California traffic signal problem being solved?"

  • MrJT November 17, 2009 (4:48 pm)

    There was an SDOT guy out there for at least 3 hours this afternoon manually running the light from the control box on the NW corner. Is THAT how they fixed it ?

  • Laconique November 17, 2009 (4:59 pm)

    hmmm… what an exacerbating problem.

  • The Velvet Bulldog November 17, 2009 (5:00 pm)

    I think the drivers were probably more exasperated than the problem was.

  • JanS November 17, 2009 (5:11 pm)

    I’m a firm believer in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. What was wrong with the original configuration, before the new timing cycle was implemented. Has there ever been an explanation as to why it was changed in the first place? Just curious.

  • Molly November 17, 2009 (5:19 pm)

    I have noticed the worst backups being on Saturdays and Sundays but I notice he hasn’t been there at these times.

  • Todd November 17, 2009 (5:27 pm)

    There has been a SDOT worker (once I saw 2 workers)at this control box 3 days in a row now. Hopefully they get it fixed soon. Glad they have been out often to check on it.

  • BB November 17, 2009 (5:42 pm)

    Now, if someone can just get the buses (esp the articulated variety) to not block Cali with their rear ends when they pull in to that stop in front of Circa things might be good.

  • cathyw November 17, 2009 (6:45 pm)

    I too have watched in exasperation as the California/Admiral traffic light allowed only 4 – FOUR! – cars across the intersection, thus exacerbating and already difficult problem of traffic congestion. I love the new usage of the term “exasperate.” Very creative and descriptive. This is how language evolves over time.

  • JayDee November 17, 2009 (7:03 pm)

    While one may fault them for screwing with the timing in the first place, I have found the signals section of SDOT very responsive to complaints. Their prompt response makes one feel like one is just not sending another e-mail response to a e-version of a dead letter office.

  • AceMotel November 17, 2009 (7:09 pm)

    There were three SDOT workers there at 4:30 today…

  • brenda tuttle November 17, 2009 (7:11 pm)

    It seems to me that the problem isn’t the actual Admiral/Calif. light, but the next two lights eastbound. They seem to react instantly whenever someone comes up on the north-south direction and stops eastbound traffic from going through the Admiral/CA light. Just my take…

  • JO November 17, 2009 (7:53 pm)

    agreed on Sat & Sunday being problematic as well. thanks for the updates from SDOT, I look forward to being behind those first 4 vehicles and making it through the light with them!

  • eaglelover November 17, 2009 (7:59 pm)

    I vote for the old configuration (no trouble until they tried to change it), now you get to stop at every light eastbound, also turning left off Cali west to Admiral that only lets through 3-4 cars at a time, backing up the Safeway lot as a result.

  • Jeffro November 17, 2009 (9:27 pm)

    Ditto on Saturday and Sundays being the worst days. By the way, the pedestrian signal was broken crossing Admiral on the west side on Halloween Eve during the trick-or-treating. I haven’t been by that way to check it since, but does anyone know if that’s still broken?

  • zgh2676 November 17, 2009 (9:44 pm)

    There’s still the problem with parked cars blocking the right hand turn lanes heading East on Admiral. Horribly stupid to have parking allowed there.

  • Aim November 18, 2009 (7:19 am)

    I’m so glad that someone other than me was grammar-nerdy enough to catch the exasperated/exacerbated issue and comment on it!

  • WSB November 18, 2009 (7:27 am)

    Actually believe it or not I learned in a side e-mail conversation with someone that the two words are considered synonyms.

  • Laconique November 18, 2009 (8:06 am)

    You know it, AIm! And they mght be similar words, but I disagree that they are interchangeble! That’s not “evolving language”- that’s using the wrong word!! Exacerbate means to make a situation worse, exasperate means to make someone frustrated or annoyed. Not the same!

  • nants November 18, 2009 (8:44 am)

    I started taking alki/harbor to get to the bridge after getting caught once right in the intersection causing gridlock…boy was that fun…couldn’t see around a huge SUV that the traffic was backed up from 42nd. Why was this changed in the first place? Anyway, I sure hope this works and the timing goes back to what it was!

  • HDW November 18, 2009 (8:56 am)

    If heading north on California, and then turning right (east) onto Admiral, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get over to the far right to turn so the rest of us can head straight through the light! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stuck behind someone who had plenty of room to get to the side, but took up the whole lane waiting for a pedestrian to cross. Then only several cars got through. I do think it would be helpful to get rid of several parking spots there in front of Linda’s Gifts and the former Herald office.

  • William November 18, 2009 (9:07 am)

    I’d sure like the city to look at the problem on the weekends, and not just the weekdays. I still think they have a problem with the timing and it’s not just electronic equipment at fault. As far as the parking issue, I’d like to see the parking restricted, but have to admit that the merchants probably need the easy parking and we all may need to live with it. I don’t want to see vacant lease space at the corner of Admiral and California . . . Solve the traffic light problems and the parking will be much less of an issue.

  • Cami November 18, 2009 (9:14 am)

    I’ve just started to go down 49th instead. It did seem for a couple of weeks that things weren’t AS bad, but last night I had to sit through 3 lights just trying to get to Safeway. I’m sure the folks that live on 44th would love to have it back the old way. Many cars are just driving through residential streets to avoid the area. Why was it “FIXED” in the first place? There was nothing wrong!

  • big gulps,eh? well, see ya later. November 18, 2009 (9:16 am)

    Am I exasperated by the exacerbation of the exacerbate vs. exasperate debate?

  • miws November 18, 2009 (10:34 am)

    Jeffro, I crossed northbound, on the west side of California/Admiral last Saturday, and seem to recall the ped signal working just fine.


    (Well, except that I likely just missed the “Walk” phase, and had to wait for it to cycle completely back around, as is normal for me, at all of those stupid lights! ;) )



  • Ro November 18, 2009 (10:35 am)

    What about that speed display coming up on Admiral off the WS Bridge? I can never tell which car’s speed it is displaying. So ineffectual!

    Not to mention the time I was the only car headed up the hill at a snails pace and a car heading down the hill caused the display to flash a sudden high number.

  • AnotherIdiotInWS November 18, 2009 (11:44 am)

    This intersection has had problems before, but it is definitely a little worse now. So, this “engineer” was observing, huh? I bet it was before 4pm – you know, because he is done for the day. I hope he observed me ignoring the left turn signal, and watched me just go instead of waiting for two cycles to get a green. I don’t wait anymore… and I will gladly take that ticket if I ever get caught. It’s only a matter of time to do it without seeing a cop… and I only do it when there is NO car approaching the intersection.

  • JAT November 18, 2009 (3:20 pm)

    I agree with HDW and BB above on the gridlock-exacerbating (and therefore exasperating…) effect of the back ends of vehicles (be they buses or right turners waiting for pedestrians) blocking the left-most of the travel lanes.

    I’m convinced that eliminating the parking spaces near the intersection (Eastbound on Admiral and Northbound on California) would allow both buses and right turners to get over sooner and alleviate much of the problem.

    We all note that this is worse on weekends – in part because on weekends the rush-hour no parking signs are not in effect.

    Of course all of this is the effect of ever increasing numbers of cars (mostly with only one occupant) on roads built for a much smaller West Seattle population, but we’re not going to solve that problem, so we might was well try the simple small things: eliminate those parking spots.

  • zgh2676 November 20, 2009 (12:56 pm)

    Please get rid of those parking spots!!

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