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    Running a red light on a freeway ramp is indeed a moving violation
    • October 27, 2023

    Q. Hi Honk: Would running a red light on freeway on-ramps be considered a moving violation? I see people doing this quite often on the 5 Freeway.

    Carl Cheng, Irvine

    A. Carl, you are talking about what are called ramp meters, deployed to even out the flow of freeway traffic.

    “It is still considered a moving violation,” said Sergio Rivera, an officer and spokesman for the California Highway Patrol out of the Santa Ana station house. “However, in courtrooms the judge doesn’t always penalize (offenders) the same way – they have some leeway.”

    Rivera compared the violation to that of running a stop sign.

    Honk, for one, wouldn’t want to take a chance – he would prefer doing many things over sitting in traffic school to keep his insurance bill from rising.

    Truthfully, it is a difficult violation for officers to cite.

    The ramps often don’t have enough room for a patrol car to safely sit and watch – and how could a driver possibly miss seeing a black-and-white there on the shoulder?

    But on the back of a few ramp meters are other lights that turn on and off. Officers can sit down the roadway a bit and peer into their rearviews to spy any driver blowing through a red.

    Honk loves the name of this nifty device: a tattletale light.

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    Q. The 5 Freeway in south Orange County has been undergoing construction since 2019 – more than four years now. Traffic attempting to enter and exit the freeway is completely disrupted at all hours. The on-ramps are nearly always backed up, and traffic is forced into two or sometimes one ramp lane. The original signs posted said, “Construction from 8-2019 to 9-2023.” Now we see a new completion date: 8-2024. So the original FOUR-YEAR completion time frame has now been pushed back ANOTHER year. In contrast: After the Northridge earthquake, the 10 Freeway’s bridges were rebuilt in a little over two months. Why does it take FIVE YEARS to complete this project? This entire situation is a FIASCO! (Thanks for letting me vent!)

    – John Guth, Aliso Viejo

    A. No problem on the venting, John – but, ah, well, the project is actually going to take perhaps six years.

    The Orange County Transportation Authority is overseeing that $580 million freeway-widening project, which covers six and a half miles from El Toro Road on the Lake Forest-Laguna Hills border to the 73 Toll Road near the Laguna Niguel-Mission Viejo dividing line.

    Two interchanges are being reconstructed, lanes will be added and the ramps all modified.

    “When the project broke ground in 2019, it was announced that the project would be complete in 2025 and the project, which is nearly 80% complete, remains on track,” said Eric Carpenter, an OCTA spokesman.

    Honk isn’t sure about the signs and their dates … maybe they were for particular ramps?

    In 1994, the Northridge quake closed the 10 in spots by crumbling bridges at La Cienega Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in the Los Angles-Culver City area, giving construction crews total access to the freeway there. For sure, those repair jobs were amazing fast, with state and federal officials cutting red tape and spending way more than it would otherwise take, in part because of contractor bonuses.

    To Honk, six years does seem like an awfully long time. He asked Joel Zlotnik, another OCTA spokesman, about that.

    “We have to balance the construction period with making sure the freeway is still operating and folks have access to the local community,” he said.

    Officials never considered just shutting down the 5, which in that stretch handles 360,000 vehicles a weekday, to speed up construction.

    “It’s important to note … we have worked with Caltrans and the cities involved to keep all pre-existing freeway lanes open during daytime and peak hours throughout construction, and, similarly, all off- and on-ramps have (mostly) remained opened,” Carpenter said.

    To ask Honk questions, reach him at [email protected]. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: X, formerly Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

    ​ Orange County Register