Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on Claycord.com.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This Claycord.com column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every Monday at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.
Email your questions to email@example.com.
Today, on New Year’s Eve, the Jammer would like to thank each and every one of you beloved Claycordians who send in questions and comment on this column. I’m looking forward to working with you all in 2013!
And now, for our first question today:
COMMUTER: With all the rain and puddles we’re having lately, I’m worried about how injurious it might be to a recent model car to be driving through these puddles and getting the underside of the car wet. I heard there’s a danger of injury to the electrical system – is that right?
–Rain, Rain, Go Away
TRAFFIC JAMMER: The Jammer turned for her answer to Brian Hagopian, an automotive faculty member at Las Positas College in Livermore. His answer was reassuring: “Late model cars are very resistant to normal puddles. All connectors to the electrical system are weather-pack sealed and components are also sealed. Personally, I would be more worried about hydroplaning your vehicle when going through a puddle.”
There is just one concern: “non-normal” puddles, Hagopian said. If a puddle is deep, say all the way up to the door sill, there is a chance of sucking water into the air intake of the engine. “If this happens the engine will hydro-lock and very bad and expensive things will happen,” Hagopian said.
COMMUTER: My question has to do with handicapped license plates and mirror hangers. Increasingly, I notice these on cars that a disabled person could not possibly get in or out of. There’s one monster truck at Safeway on Clayton Road every week and the person getting in and out is definitely not disabled. Today I saw a souped-up work truck with a disabled plate. Is there something that can be done in cases where the plate is obviously fraudulent?
–Discombobulated in Concord
TRAFFIC JAMMER: DIC, as you point out, disabled placard abuse is harmful for many reasons. However, it’s important to note that you can’t always tell by someone’s appearance or behavior whether or not they are disabled. A person with chronic fatigue syndrome, for example, can appear totally able-bodied. A person with asthma could jump down from their monster truck and stride merrily into the mall, walk past a person with a cigarette and be stricken with an asthma attack. When you’re struggling to breathe, it’s hard to walk just a few feet.
For this reason, the Jammer urges discretion. It’s always dicey approaching strangers and this is especially dicey. You can call the police and report what you are seeing; it is against the law to misuse a disabled placard. Claycordians, any other suggestions?
COMMUTER: I commute from the Pittsburg BART station often and I have been frustrated with the backup on Leland during the afternoon commute. There is little traffic turning left from Leland onto Bailey Road going to Concord. However, the traffic light is keeping east bound traffic on Leland from going through. West bound traffic on Leland often has a green light before the East bound traffic.
There is a lot of traffic coming from Bay Point that must blend with the traffic coming out of the BART parking lot. When the traffic is heavy in the afternoon, the light can cause of real traffic back up that would be relieved if the light were better programmed for that part of the day. Is this intentional, or is it something that could be fixed?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Frustrated, it turns out that the folks at the City of Pittsburg are big Claycord fans, and they pulled out all the stops to help us with this. The Jammer really appreciates the extra effort – thanks to Don Buchanan Manager, Maintenance Services Environmental Services, for spearheading the effort. Also, the Jammer knows you all love details, so I’ll include them, but first I’ll cut to the chase: The folks in Pittsburg jumped into action and studied the operation of the intersection.
The staff has made some adjustments to the intersection already, and they are going to do a bigger fix as well. Unfortunately, they can’t do it until the cold and rain go away, which is to say, likely early spring. Now, here is the city’s awesomely thorough response:
The traffic signal at the intersection of Bailey Road & W. Leland Road uses detectors in the pavement to detect vehicles. Detectors are also used to extend the variable portion of the green interval. Detectors at the intersection have been damaged as a result of construction operations along the Bailey Road corridor. Detectors on the southbound approach were recently replaced. The detectors on northbound and westbound intersection approaches are currently not functioning and require replacement. These detector replacements require coordination with other construction activities.
With the detectors damaged, the northbound and westbound intersection approaches are operated as fixed time (pre-timed) vehicle movements. Where fixed timed operation is used, a vehicle movement is served for a predetermined amount of time regardless of traffic volume. The use of fixed time does result in certain inefficiencies in the operation.
Also a factor in the signal operation, lanes are currently closed on the northbound and southbound approaches. The lane closure reduces the capacity of these intersection approaches. Additional time has been given to these approaches to address observed queuing problems.
Earlier this month, the operation of the intersection was reviewed. The operation was reviewed during several periods of the day. Based on the review, certain adjustments have been made in the timing of the intersection. A time of day plan has been added in an effort to better address the differences in volumes and direction of travel by time of day. Staff will continue to monitor the operation of the intersection.
Until the detectors are replaced and all lanes reopened, there will continue to be inefficiencies in the intersection operation and motorists will notice delay.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by Claycord.com at 2pm for more traffic intelligence. Remember, whether you drive, walk, bike or hop Amtrak, BART or AC Transit, Traffic Jammer Janis Mara is here to answer your questions.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.