Video: California/Fauntleroy signal-replacement-a-thon, as it happened

Since the big signal-replacement project at California/Fauntleroy happened without advance announcement, we promised to follow up with SDOT. Today, we not only have the overview, we also have the time-lapse video above, from pre-dawn Saturday through late Sunday afternoon. SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan explains that the project was carried out in an unusual manner:

The work at the intersection of California and Fauntleroy was a full replacement of the intersection’s signal infrastructure. The poles and signal equipment there were very old and the hardware was failing.

Instead of working over a normal two-week period (from only 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to avoid traffic), we completed the work over the weekend in a record 36 hours. The California and Fauntleroy intersection now has modern traffic signal equipment featuring new poles, signal heads and wires. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the work but believe the signal system upgrades will serve the neighborhood well.

The signals previously had numerous problems, reported here repeatedly last year.

25 Replies to "Video: California/Fauntleroy signal-replacement-a-thon, as it happened"

  • Kat February 20, 2014 (4:15 pm)

    I am so annoyed with these new signals. They actually tell you to “Wait” every five seconds after you press the button. Then when you can cross the noise it makes reminds me of stun gun.

  • miws February 20, 2014 (4:42 pm)

    And I thought the speeding problem on 35th was bad… ;-)



  • metrognome February 20, 2014 (5:55 pm)

    I imagine the audible information is meant to assist people with disabilities in knowing when it is safe to cross. They used to use chirping bird sounds but they fell out of favor in areas with real live chirping birds. Unfortunately, they don’t warn you when someone is barreling south on California and takes the right turn onto Fauntleroy without slowing below light speed cuz they’re late for the ferry to bucolic Vashon Island. What they need are klaxon horns to alert drivers that someone is in the crosswalk.

  • iggy February 20, 2014 (5:59 pm)

    WSB: Thank you so much for putting this on the topline tonight. I have felt like I’ve had two days of living h*** with the TALKING LIGHTS. They say WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT for the entire 3 or 4 minute cycle. Then then make a noise like a dying woodpecker. Aside from being loud and obnoxious, it is unclear which crossing (remember there are two directions on each corner) the WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT ad nauseum and the dying woodpecker refer to. This is torture and noise pollution. Does anyone know how we can petition the city to turn the noise off?
    The icing on the cake is that the warnings don’t even work to stop people crossing against the light. I still am seeing people run against the light to catch a bus.
    These talking lights are such a nuisance, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    • WSB February 20, 2014 (6:08 pm)

      Iggy – first, contact 206-684-ROAD and ask them. I haven’t been on foot there since the work and nobody had mentioned it to us before I contacted SDOT, or I would have asked about it. Am off to another meeting after a day in court (with a protest inbetween) but we’ll stop down and check it out tomorrow. – TR

  • JanS February 20, 2014 (6:23 pm)

    whoa…first world problems…so iggy and kat…disabled (blind) people bedamned? Just turn it off?

  • M February 20, 2014 (6:28 pm)

    I know, right? Why would you put in signals with sound to help those who might be vision impaired? Just another special interest group getting their way.

  • JK February 20, 2014 (6:29 pm)

    These new lights need to be programmed correctly.

    Last night I was headed north CA stopped at Fauntleroy. Sitting there waiting for a green. Car pulled up on Fauntleroy heading east – also stopped by the red their direction. Car heading south on CA then also stopped at the light. The light was red ALL directions for a good minute or two with NO traffic.


    I thought about just going through since everyone else was red then the light finally turned green.

    EDIT: I’ll also call the number above. Thanks for posting that.

  • Community Member February 20, 2014 (6:35 pm)

    “…a noise like a dying woodpecker”
    This raises all sorts of questions. What species of woodpecker?

  • Out for a walk February 20, 2014 (6:55 pm)

    Does the Dept of Transportation or whoever is in charge have a citizen “early” review-input citizen group to review their plans? This is incredible! The lights AND traffic at CA Ave SW & Fauntleroy need to be synced. Back-ups are so common I now avoid the intersection and drive on neighborhood streets. I’m sure those neighbors love the increased “drive-around” traffic.

  • iggy February 20, 2014 (7:06 pm)

    Pileated woodpecker of course.
    And, yes, the chirping bird when the walk light was on cycle was helpful for sight impaired people. What we are objecting to is the WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT etc. etc. at full volume throughout an entire cycle, which could be several minutes. Doesn’t serve any purpose but to annoy. The sight impaired people (and I know several) know to wait for the bird chirping. The WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT annoys them too and serves no purpose. I guess if the city wants to change from chirping bird to stun gun/dying woodpecker that’s okay, but it’s certainly not very pleasant and counts as noise pollution (which the pretty chirping bird did not).
    Furthermore, the WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT coming from one speaker and the dying woodpecker competing from the other is confusing as to which crosswalk is which(remember there are two crosswalks at each corner). If they did away with the WAIT WAIT WAIT, one could actually hear the bird and know which crosswalk had the walk light.
    Okay, enough whining from me. As I said previously, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I will eventually learn to ignore, since I use that intersection a half-dozen times a day or more. I’m sure the city means well, and I will leave it at that.

  • twobottles February 20, 2014 (7:11 pm)

    Wow, really? What next, complain about the disabled parking spots being right at the front door of the grocery store when that’s were you’d like to park?

    We’ve had these “talking” signals at California/Admiral from quite some time… First time I heard them, I thought, “Nice, help for visually impaired”. Haven’t really thought about them or noticed them since.

    Two days of living hell? Loud, obnoxious, torture, noise pollution? Not even close on any count and absurd to claim so.

  • miws February 20, 2014 (7:36 pm)

    On one of my first encounters with a “Wait….wait” light, I pressed the button twice, as I generally do, and the timing was just right in the “Wait…wait…” that I was hoping one more press would result in “…don’t tell me.”



  • Ryan February 20, 2014 (8:24 pm)

    The WAIT WAIT WAIT is so annoying. please turn it off

  • Yo February 20, 2014 (9:08 pm)

    Oh I love the petty complaints. I remember when Fauntleroy got repaved, someone posted a complaint about the two-tone color of the concrete and asphalt within the road. Seriously.

    • WSB February 20, 2014 (9:10 pm)

      That was actually a good question, and the answer was interesting.

  • CeeBee February 20, 2014 (9:56 pm)

    i live at the top of Morgan hill. When the chirping signals were first installed, I could hear it at the top of the hill, in the late evening hours when traffic noise slacked off. I called it in and the volume level was reduced. Those sounds are essential for some folks, probably just need some tweaking again

  • Scooterista February 21, 2014 (8:07 am)

    They also installed cameras on the two traffic light poles that regulate the California traffic. What’s the purpose of those cameras?
    Was the talking signals system designed with the participation of people with low vision, or was it created by people with no direct experience of this condition? Because it does seem like a system which assumes people with low vision have the reasoning capacities and attention span of a four year old child. And I say that as someone with tons of experience with four year old children.
    It would be great to hear from some people with vision impairment about the usefulness of the new talking signals. If their needs are being met well, then I have nothing to complain about.

    • WSB February 21, 2014 (8:30 am)

      Scooter – cameras have been there a long time. We asked about them at one point – they’re like the ones at Admiral/Olga, traffic-flow-related but not on the public web.

  • Mike H February 21, 2014 (9:17 am)

    About the new pedestrian push buttons – these are the required push buttons per the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, the rapid ticking (i.e. dying woodpecker) has been chosen over the previous chirp-chirp and cuckoo sounds since studies indicated most people were unable to distinguish what direction each of the sounds meant. The rapid ticking allows someone with a visual impairment to aim towards the sound of the one on the opposite side.

    These push buttons are capable of adjusting the sound levels based on the ambient sound. In theory, when traffic is heavy and loud or a truck just passes, the volume increases. When volumes are low, the volume should decrease. However, it is technology and as such, sometimes it may not work exactly as intended for whatever reason.

    For those who hear this very loudly at night, the best thing is to contact SDOT and tell them about the volume issue. They’ve been working with these systems for sometime and can likely fix the issue.

  • TeeTaw February 21, 2014 (10:41 am)

    Are people really complaining about a cross walk and the sounds it makes or have I fallen into another universe?

    Honest to God, what is wrong with you people?

  • MCJ February 21, 2014 (12:26 pm)

    As far as I read, no praise for SDOT for going in and fixing a recurring problem quickly and efficiently with the minimum disruption. Great job, SDOT.

  • Julia February 21, 2014 (3:59 pm)

    Happened to walk across the intersection today. I know it’s petty, but the problem is that the “Wait, wait” voice is so commanding (like “Sit, stay”). If it was more pleasant sounding, it would be less annoying. I’d think disabled folks would find it irritating, too.

  • miws February 22, 2014 (12:43 pm)

    Just checked it out a couple hours ago, after getting off the bus to go to (WSB Sponsor) Thriftway.


    Probably a normal amount of vehicle traffic for late on a Saturday morning, and probably average traffic noise level, or maybe a tad more with the road surfaces being wet. So, even if there are automatic adjustments for ambient noise, and presuming SDOT has not tweaked it, the “Wait, Wait”, was not overly loud at all.



  • SeaChanty51 March 2, 2014 (5:16 am)

    I too find the ‘wait wait wait’ a tiny bit annoying, so I just wait until the light cycle is right to shorten the time on the ‘Morgan Street Wait Chant’. Unless a “C” Line is approaching and resets the cycle, you just press for a signal when the opposing lights turn yellow.

Sorry, comment time is over.