Dear City of Portland: Can We Do Something About Your Traffic Lights?
City of Portland, there's something you should know. Your traffic lights are really messed up at a certain time of day. Specifically, from my experience, Forest Avenue is ridiculous for drivers that are on the road overnight.
I wake up at 3 a.m. to start my day and am hitting Forest Avenue by 3:45. From the Portland/Westbrook city line on Route 302, down Forest Avenue over to Preble Street to Congress Street to work, there are 19 traffic lights, with all but one of them blinking. The 18 others are cycling and seem to not be sensing the cars that are there, or not there.
I realize that not all of these lights may fall under your jurisdiction. The Maine DOT I'm sure has jurisdiction over some of them, but all but one on my drive do the same thing. Cycle through green to red without taking into account the traffic that is present. So it seems someone decided all these lights should do this no matter who is responsible for their operation.
Sometimes these lights don't let me go at all. Monday morning I sat waiting for the green arrow shown here to turn left onto Preble Street and watched the light to continue on Forest Avenue cycle three times without giving me a green arrow. At that point I just said screw it and ran the light. I hate to do that, but not a single car drove by me through all those cycles, so I think I was justified.
I know that this a minor inconvenience for a small group of people, but waiting for two minutes for a red light at 4 in the morning when there isn't a single car on the entire length of Forest Avenue seems unnecessary. Set them to flash red in all directions during these extremely low traffic volume hours. Now you've got a four-way stop and those of us driving into work at a time when most people are still sleeping can shave several minutes off our drive. Set it to switch back to normal operation in time for the morning commute and you're good to go.
It probably isn't this simple, but it seems like it should be. For now though, I'll still sit and wait as I ponder if I run a light again after three cycles hoping I don't get busted for it after I never got a green.