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Clipboard : How To Report A Malfunctioning Traffic Signal

December 27, 1990|KATHIE BOZANICH

It is frustrating. There you are sitting at a traffic signal, waiting for it to change. You watch what seems to be a thousand cars whiz by, and still no change. You go into reverse and run over the electronic loop, hoping to activate the signal in your favor, but still no change. You get so irritated you get out of the car and go press the crosswalk button.

And still no change.

You finally give up and whip through a nearby gas station in disgust.

Don't let it end there, because you just might find yourself sitting at that particular signal again.

In every city of the county, motorists can report malfunctioning and mistimed traffic signals. The county has a traffic engineering division to do the same for signals in the unincorporated areas.

Caltrans will respond to complaints about signals on state-maintained roads such as Pacific Coast Highway, Coast Highway, Imperial Highway, Laguna Canyon Road and most of Beach Boulevard.

The number of complaint calls about traffic signals varies considerably from city to city, from 50 a week in Newport Beach to one or two a month in the smaller cities, traffic officials say.

Complaints range from seemingly mistimed signals to non-working left-turn arrows; from an out-of-whack rotationto a light that has gone out altogether (this last is the most dangerous situation of all, traffic officials say.)

The fault does not always lie in the machinery, however. In some cases, the motorist failed to prompt the light by not running over the electronic loop in the road.

Buena Park traffic engineer Herb Vargas said that there was one case in which the city resorted to painting the electronic loop so that motorists could see where to run over it.

Then there are the complaints from drivers who think they were kept waiting far too long at a particular signal only to have a field check show that the signal is functioning normally.

"Let's just say we get a number of calls that don't check out to be what was reported," said Ron Garrett, traffic engineering technician in Newport Beach.

Although many cities have central computer systems to monitor signals, through the electronic loop system, traffic officials must still rely on the public to report many problems.

Here is a list of phone numbers to call to report mistimed and malfunctioning signals. You must be able to provide the place, the approximate length of time you waited there and the direction you were driving.

Number has a 714 area code unless otherwise noted.


Traffic engineering division, 999-5183.


Traffic engineering division, 990-7742.

Buena Park

Traffic engineer Herb Vargas, 521-9900.

Costa Mesa

Traffic engineering department, 754-5185.


Traffic engineer, 229-6750.

Dana Point

Public Works Department, 248-3560.

Fountain Valley

Traffic engineering, 965-4400.


Engineering Department, 738-6845.

Garden Grove

Traffic engineer, 741-5190.

Huntington Beach

Traffic engineering division, 536-5431.


Traffic engineer Rob Hughes, 724-7648.

La Habra

Engineering Department,

(213) 905-9720.

La Palma

Public Works Department, 523-1140.

Laguna Beach

Municipal services, 497-0706.

Laguna Niguel

Call 643-7000 and give the information to the receptionist.

Los Alamitos

Call City Hall at 827-8670 and ask for the city engineer. If unavailable, a receptionist can take down the information and give it to the appropriate department.

Mission Viejo

Secretary of the maintenance division, Julie Snell, 582-2489,

Ext. 2713.

Newport Beach

Traffic division, 644-3344.


Traffic engineering signal lab, 532-6426.


Public Works Department, 993-8131.

San Clemente

Traffic engineer, 498-2533,

Ext. 3405.

San Juan Capistrano

City Hall, 493-1171, and ask for the engineering department.

Santa Ana

Public Works Agency, traffic division, 647-5606.

Seal Beach

City Hall, (213) 431-2527, and ask for the public works yard at Ext. 232.


Engineering Department, 220-2220, Ext. 220.


Traffic engineering, 544-8890,

Ext. 289.

Villa Park

Call 998-1500 and ask for the city engineer. If unavailable, a receptionist can take down the information and relay it to the appropriate department.


Call 898-3311 and dial in or ask for traffic engineering at Ext. 220.

Yorba Linda

Engineering Department, 961-7170.

State-maintained streets: Call Caltrans traffic operations, 724-2350.

Streets in unincorporated areas of the county: County traffic engineering division, 834-3483.

Source: Individual traffic agencies

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