California

Thousands of traffic signals blacked out in Northern California. What drivers need to know

California traffic safety officials are warning drivers that thousands of intersection signals are out around the north state and the greater Sacramento area Wednesday morning as a result of the massive PG&E power shutoff.

More are likely to go dark at noon Wednesday as PG&E launches the second phase of shutoffs, notably in hilly portions of the Bay Area.

Wherever a traffic intersection signal is out, drivers are required to treat the intersection like a four-way stop, Caltrans and CHP officials said.

“We are aware of lot of signals out,” said CHP Sgt. Nelda Banuelos in the Sacramento Valley and foothills. “We’re advising people drive with extra caution. Treat it as a four-way stop sign.”

There were reports of some crashes and traffic congestion, but no major incidents in the Sacramento and foothills region, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Some signals on highways and main roads were being temporarily run by generators, but those devices likely will only last a few hours.

Caltrans officials are warning motorists to be especially aware of pedestrians and cyclists in blackout areas.

CHP officials ask the public not to call 911 about signal outages or to inquire when the power will be turned back on.

In the Bay Area, officials said they are working to install power generators at the Caldecott Tunnel on Highway 24, a main commute route between the outer East Bay and the Oakland and San Francisco area.

“Caldecott is looking good, we believe we will be able to do a power transfer by noon, working with PG&E,” Bart Ney of Caltrans said.

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Tony Bizjak has been reporting for The Bee for 30 years. He covers transportation, housing and development and previously was the paper’s City Hall beat reporter.
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