Computer network that controls lights fails, causing 'awful' delays

If rush hour in Santa Rosa seems more congested than normal, it is.

But not because there are more cars on the road.

It seems the city's super-smart network of traffic signals dropped a few IQ points last month.

A software program that coordinates the city's traffic signals seized up when a computer server and its backup both crashed March 23.

This forced signals at major intersections to revert to a dated program that isn't nearly as efficient as the current one, said city traffic engineer Rob Sprinkle.

"It's definitely noticeable," Sprinkle said. "If you're driving on some of the major corridors, the timing is different than it had been two weeks ago."

One of the hardest hit areas is Guerneville Road and Steele Lane near Highway 101. With arteries already clogged by In-N-Out Burger on the east side of the freeway and construction at Coddingtown Mall creating detours on the west, the area was already one of the city's most choked.

But in recent weeks, traffic has gotten noticeably worse, said Santa Rosa Ski and Sports owner Carole Holley.

"Now it's awful getting through there," declared Holley, who said it can seem like it takes a half-hour to navigate the area at lunchtime.

Sprinkle said city technicians have been working hard to get the system up and running again and are "cautiously optimistic" it will be online this week.

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