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Pacific Beach traffic signal malfunctions, creating havoc among drivers

Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-05 21:22:50-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The 4 p.m. commute through Garnet Avenue and Mission Bay Drive is tricky on a normal day, but with a malfunctioning traffic signal the mess can become even more chaotic.

That was the scene Tuesday, when the intersection's signal malfunctioned, sending drivers toward each other during the busy commute.

"People are honking, there are so many almost crashes I witnessed," Ben Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg's dash camera captured several near misses as drivers fought their way through the intersection.

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You can see the cars going westbound clearly had a green light. The city says it got the first call about a problem 30 minutes before Ginsburg's camera captured the scene.

"It's amazing nobody got hurt. Because there's a few times there's somebody in the middle of the intersection and people have to swerve around them — that could cause a t-bone on their end or side-swipe somebody next to them," Ginsburg said.

10News covered a similar incident in 2017. Shortly after the city installed smart traffic lights in Point Loma, some drivers complained about opposing lights apparently turning green at the same time.

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But the city says that's not what happened in Pacific Beach this week.

A spokesperson said these are old-fashioned signals and a crew failed to reset a new controller-system that was installed Monday night. After analyzing the video, the city says there was a timing issue that kept one side locked on green and the other locked on red.

Drivers stopped at the red light eventually got fed up and ran the light.

"It must have been extremely dangerous. At the end, I called the police and had them show up," Ginsburg added.

The city says its rare for traffic lights to get stuck like this, but with more than 1,600 intersections it happens and they rely on drivers to report it.