Jul 30, 2014

Crossing Guard Arms Malfunction Delays Traffic, Train Commute

The malfunction appeared to have been fixed as of 1:25 p.m. on Thursday.

Crossing Guard Arms Malfunction Delays Traffic, Train Commute

As of 1:25 p.m., South Pasadena Police Department officers were standing by  intersections of Meridian Street at Orange Grove and Mission Streets to make sure everything runs smoothly for approaching trains, after malfunctioning crossing guard arms slowed traffic and delayed Highland Park train commuters earlier in the day.

At 1:10 p.m., South Pasadena Police sent out a Nixle Alert that the crossing guard arms were stuck in the down position again at Mission Street and Meridian Avenue and Orange Grove and Indiana Avenues after having already been repaired earlier in the morning.  MTA officials were headed to the scene. It is unclear how long a full restoration will take, authorities said. 

Signal problems started just before 6 a.m. and initially lasted until 8:45 a.m., said MTA spokesman Dave Sotero. The signal issue led to malfunctioning guard arms at five locations, including one in Highland Park at North Figueroa Street, that were intermittently stuck in a down position, he said.

"The train stalled my commute by at least 10 minutes while a Metro worker manually controlled the lights and stop arms," said commuter Monica Morello. "Traffic accumulated quickly as we all waited--for a long time--for a green light."

For the intersections MTA considered major traffic arteries, officials sent workers to manually lift the gates to allow motorists to pass, he said. Those train track intersections were Figueroa at the Metro station in Highland Park, Pasadena Avenue and Monterey Road and Mission Street and Meridian Avenue. 

The problems delayed train service between South Pasadena and Highland Park for seven to eight minutes in both directions, Sotero said. But the traffic backup appeared to be the larger problem.

"I wanted to rip my hair out,'' Diane St. Clair wrote on the  South Pasadena Patch Facebook page.

"Had to go across the tracks twice from Fair Oaks to  San Pascual Stables in the Arroyo took 20 minutes and back across to Fremont and Mission another 20 minutes. Guard arms on the tracks, trains and lights WAY out of sync...Though in all fairness that's the first time since we moved to SoPas in 2 1/2 years,'' she said.

The first report of a problem came into the South Pasadena Police Department just after 8:30 a.m., said Sgt. Tony Abdalla. Police notified the MTA and deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, who direct traffic when there's an MTA issue, he said.

"The arms were in a down position so there was not a danger to public safety,'' he said, noting it would have been much worse if the guard arms were stuck in the upright position, allowing access to the tracks while a train was coming.

The arms were functioning properly just before 9 a.m., said Abdalla.

In terms of signal malfunction, Sotero considered Thursday's problem minor, but did apologize to anyone who was caught in it. 

"The amount of time was relatively short. But during rush hour it's never convenient for anyone [to be stuck],'' he said.

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