Commute Frustrations at 3AM?


Shannon O'DonnellWhat is the deal with roadwork and the detour signs used to steer commuters back to their intended path? Take the off-again, on-again detour that goes up along southbound 101, for instance. Often, they close the stretch of highway near Mountain View between midnight and five a.m. (not a bother to most people, I know, but it sure forces me to take the scenic route on MY middle-of-the-night commute…) Everybody in the South Bay knows this particular construction project has been going on for eons. Different parts of the highway are closed at different times. So, there are oodles of orange detour signs sprinkled through the nearby connector streets. When a detour is not in effect, they halfway cover up the detour sign with a board. Sometimes.

Often, they forget to UN-cover some of the detour signs, and RE-cover the ones that aren’t currently in use. On the detour off 101, I made the mistake of actually FOLLOWING the detour signs and ended up lost up in the Los Altos Hills. I was just going in circles, passing empty strip-malls, and becoming more and more lost in the suburbs. You can’t pull over and ask anybody directions at that hour–nobody else is around!

After studying a few maps and planning my route, I was able to figure out the detour, and now I’m the ‘expert’ on it in the morning…but I always see other drivers very puzzled as to what to do. They get veered off the freeway unexpectedly, thrown into side-streets they’re not familiar with (and in the dark at 3 a.m., to boot), and then have to deal with a bevy of detour signs that contradict one another and send them to Timbuktu.

So, I guess this is a plea to whomever is in charge of such things: please uncover the signs pointing folks in the right direction. Thank you!!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist


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