Flashing Red Light Returns to Wilton Place

Wilton Place residents and nearby neighbors celebrate the return of their flashing red traffic light at Wilton Place and 2nd Street.

After nearly seven years, the flashing red traffic light has returned to the intersection of Wilton Place and 2nd Street, to the delight of Ridgewood-Wilton Neighborhood Association and residents who had been asking the City to restore the signal since it was abruptly changed in 2012.

It all started 26 years ago, when neighbors, trying to increase safety on Wilton Place, a busy “Collector” street with a dangerous curve, successfully lobbied the city for a traffic signal at Second Street, to slow down traffic before it entered the curve. The signal cycled through the normal green-yellow-red pattern during the day, and from the hours of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. switched to a constant blinking red, forcing all cars to stop briefly before proceeding, Wilton Place resident Mary Rajswing told the Buzz. And it worked.  The street, while still busy during the day, “turned back into a quiet neighborhood at night,” Rajswing said.

but in 2012, in response to complaints from a neighbor who didn’t like the flashing light, which had been upgraded with a brighter bulb by the Department of Transportation, the city replaced the always-flashing-red-at-night pattern with a “rest on red” signal.  (It remained solid red during the nighttime hours, until a car came to rest at the intersection, and then it would cycle to green, to let the car pass, and then to yellow and back to a resting red.)

But neighbors said this proved confusing to drivers, and residents documented numerous cars speeding through the intersection, along with an increased number of accidents. The neighbors said that the resting red pattern was also very dangerous for pedestrians, and it turns out there are a fair number tpeople who walk around between the hours of 9 pm and midnight.

So the residents began a campaign to ask the City to re-instate the flashing red light.

But for the longest time, and for reasons that are not entirely clear, City officials told the residents that it couldn’t be done. In fact, the issue of the traffic signal became quite famous among CD4 staff, who tried all manner of ways to help the residents, only to be told it could not be done. And while DOT officials offered various solutions, none included a return to the flashing red that the neighbors wanted.  Until recently.

A few weeks ago, residents got word that “senior engineers at the DOT have figured out a way to restore the flashing red signal.” And so, after seven years, the flashing red pattern returnd. The neighbors even threw a party at 9 pm to celebrate…and we were honored to be there to help commemorate the return of their now famous “flashing red” traffic light at Wilton Place and 2nd Street.

Exquisite “Flashing Red” cakes and champagne were part of the celebration welcoming back the flashing red traffic light.
LADOT Transportation Engineer Sean Skehan explains how this signal box works.
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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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