It has been more than two years since a pair of large electronic message signs were installed on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park and Victor Heights to flash messages about traffic conditions and warnings. But, on Tuesday, as traffic on Sunset Boulevard was jammed during the season opener at Dodger Stadium, the signs remained dark. With the exception of the words “Echo Park” that glow in blue script, the signs have been dark almost the entire time since they were installed by the city’s Department of Transportation at a cost of $240,000 a piece. A city contractor has so far been unable to fix a glitch in high-tech system that left the signs blank.
The changeable message signs” or CMS structures – located near Portia Street and White Knoll Drive – were supposed to notify motorists on how long they would be stuck in traffic until they arrived at the stadium in addition to other general traffic information and alerts. “Displaying accurate information on CMS helps commuters assess traffic, alleviates driver stress and allows drivers to make better decisions,” according to a city Public Works document.
But those signs, installed in March 2010, have done little to reduce driver stress since they have hardly ever worked. After the signs remained offline during the 2010 Dodger baseball and traffic season, the department of transportation said it would have the signs up and running in time for 2011 playing season. That did not happen. “We have never noticed it being used,” said one resident who has lived by the Echo Park sign for more than a year.
Bruce Gillman, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said the signs have been used on occasion. However, a system of experimental sensors embedded in the pavement have not been able to feed information to the signs. Gillman explained
These particular CMS’s were installed in conjunction with a traffic management system that involved the utilization of experimental senors to provide real time traffic data for the Dodger Stadium functions. Unfortunately, our contractor has not been able to get the algorithm for the system to work properly and we were not able to utilize them for this game. We are hoping to get them set up for future activities soon.
Maybe its time to send the contractor a message to hurry up with those repairs.