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April 17, 2001 PROBE

April 17, 2001

QUESTION: I live in Holtville and I drive old Highway 80 (Evan Hewes Highway) daily to El Centro. With the new construction it's a mess.

What bothers me is the red light at highways 111 and Evan Hewes takes forever to change. Sometimes you're stuck there 10 minutes while the 111 north and south vehicles whip by.

I know PROBE lives in Holtville. Why don't you check this out? — Country Woman, Holtville

Although we try not to give Holtville folks preferential treatment, we've been timing that light for months. Like you, we've noticed it seems we do have to wait longer and we think we do.

Nevertheless, the wait for the Holtville to El Centro motorists is not as long as we thought it was. When the light is working, the wait is never more than two minutes.

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It takes longer when a California Department of Transportation employee stands out there directing traffic.

He holds up that STOP paddle until he's ready, then he's waving both arms with a "c'mon, stupid, we don't have all day!" motion.

If our destination is on the south side of El Centro, we avoid the 111 intersection by taking Bowker Road to Interstate 8.

There's construction on I-8 as well …

QUESTION: After I pulled off El Centro's Imperial Avenue onto eastbound I-8, I saw a sign, "Bump." I didn't see a bump and I was picking up speed to merge when I hit the bump. It rattled my eyeballs. Why would Caltrans put a speed bump on a freeway? — Commuter, El Centro

That's not a speed bump, according to Tom Nipper, Caltrans spokesman. It's a dip, part of a ramp renovation project, he said.

Construction crews dug out old asphalt to prepare the onramp for the new pavement.

"If we poured the new asphalt over the pavement, there would be a rise on the surface, (a permanent speed bump), Nipper said.

QUESTION: I am so confused! I thought the law said one must stop a car at a stop sign before the crosswalks. With this new downtown El Centro beautification project, where do we stop — in front of the crosswalk or behind it?

In front of the crosswalk there's space for one car before the intersection. Or do we stop twice, before the crosswalk and again after the crosswalk?

For example, where are you supposed to stop at Fifth and Main streets? — Confused, El Centro

You're not the only person confused. Another PROBE reader complained he doesn't know what to do at Seventh and Main.

El Centro Police Chief Ray Loera referred us to City Engineer Ken Skillman when we asked him where motorists should stop.

The City Council directed Skillman to review the intersection problems. We'll check with him to see what he concluded.

Basically, the law permits you to stop anywhere as long as you don't stop in the intersection, Loera said.

If you pull into the crosswalk, remember pedestrians have the right-of-way, he said.

Speaking of confused, we stopped on a red light short of the line at the signal at Evan Hewes and Highway 111 the other night.

It was a long wait. Finally a man tapped on our window. "You have to pull forward. The light can't see you."

We pulled forward and waited again. Finally, the light changed to green.

We asked the Caltrans spokesman if the light stayed red because it couldn't "see" us.

"No, but there are sensors in the pavement to tell the light a car is waiting," said Nipper.

The light never cared before.

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