Q I have a question regarding signs on overpasses. In the interest of protecting all of our free speech rights in the days leading up to a very important primary election, I would like to see the prevailing laws clarified.
A reader says she "saw two men holding a large sign" on an overpass on Highway 85, leading to a big traffic slowdown. Your answer: "It is illegal to have banners, flags or signs on highway structures." The law, as I understand it, prohibits affixing anything to highway structures, but holding a sign or flag while on an overpass is legal.
A You are correct. Caltrans lawyers confirm that attaching flags or banners is not allowed. As for handheld banners, they say that generally speaking, Caltrans does not restrict the right of free speech. However, adds Mark-the-Caltrans-Spokesman: "We are concerned that people waving handheld banners could cause driver distraction -- putting their safety or that of the motoring public at risk."
Q Can you explain why a perfectly good intersection at Los Gatos Boulevard and Blossom Hill Road was torn up and redone? They replaced the signal at the northwest corner with another one about a foot or two away, and added a second left-turn lane from eastbound Blossom Hill to northbound Los Gatos. I assume this has to do with the new housing development on that corner. Seems totally unnecessary to me. I hope the developers had to pay for this.
A They did, picking up the entire $700,000 tab. The development triggered traffic impacts that required improvements in the intersection, the town says. In addition to a second left-turn lane, Blossom Hill was widened by about 10 feet and traffic signals were realigned to allow for new lane configurations.
Q There is a major intersection in Los Gatos that is a potential traffic hazard at University Avenue/Route 9 (Sunnyvale-Saratoga). Left turns from Route 9 onto University have protected green arrows to aid safe traffic turns. However, equivalent turns from University onto Route 9 have no such protection. Consequently drivers turning left from University to go east on Route 9 often have to peer around another car turning left from University to go west on Route 9 and vice versa. This can be tricky. This is a busy intersection. Why cannot there be protected left-turn arrows from all directions?
Graham and Jane Hills
A Your wish is granted. The town plans to add dedicated signalized left-turn lanes from both directions on University, work that could be done by Labor Day.
Q Why are the metering lights on Highway 17 near Lexington Reservoir/Bear Creek Road sometimes off during morning rush hour? When they are not on, traffic is backed up all the way to Summit Road. When they are on, traffic flows evenly.
A There have been intermittent equipment issues at this ramp getting power to the light. Caltrans hopes to resolve the problems soon.