Traffic light at a Trail intersection makes for a quick turn signal.

Traffic light at a Trail intersection makes for a quick turn signal.

Dangerous traffic light change, standard procedure

Pedestrians are reminded to wait for walk signal before proceeding on unexpected light change

What seems a potentially dangerous traffic light anomaly at a Trail intersection is standard operating procedure.

Many downtown workers who park in the Trail Memorial Centre parking lot have experienced it.

When a vehicle pulls into the turning lane, pedestrians waiting to cross at the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Victoria Street will see the westbound light change from green to yellow and then back to full green with a turn signal, rather than the expected red light.

“I know now, if there’s a car in the turn lane, then you have to wait,” said Greater Trail resident Jeanine Margoreeth. “It’s scary, because it’s totally unexpected. I know why it does it, but it shouldn’t do it.”

The Times contacted the City of Trail to determine if the changing light was a concern. The city reported the complaint and referred the Times to Westcana Electric, the Ministry of Transportation lighting contractor.

After inspecting the light, Westcana responded promptly explaining that the signal is in coordination with other signals on the corridor and that for pedestrian or vehicular calls there is only a small window for the call to be processed.

“We’ve looked at the signal’s operation and found it to be working as designed,” said Gord Padalec, provincial manager of Westcana Electric Highways Division.

“Upon our inspection, we observed the red display to be fully operational.

“As for the signal going from green to yellow, then all red for just over 0.8 second, and then back to a green ball with the flashing left turn green arrow for the same direction … this is a safe programmed function to eliminate a potential collision to a vehicle wanting to turn left.”

Apparently, the red light appears for less than one second before turning green with the left-turn signal allowing turning vehicles to advance, as well as those continuing westbound.

But for pedestrians who anticipate a full red signal, it can be alarming.

“I thought that was weird and I was about to cross, and then I said, ‘Oh goodness me,’ who’s at fault,” said another Trail pedestrian.

Westcana did provide a full explanation of how the lights, its turn signal and the pedestrian crossing operate.

“If the window of opportunity to receive and process a request is between the 10 to 15 second mark on a 60 second dial, and a request goes in at the 17 second mark, that request will be held until the clock cycles around to the 10 second mark, then it would be serviced in a priority sequence.

“Once the left turn movement clears, the opposing direction will get their green ball in concert with the existing green ball and if called for, the pedestrian walkman will also be displayed.”

Ultimately when crossing, don’t jump the gun, wait for the walk signal before stepping off the curb.

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