The Traffic and Communications
section will make every effort to maintain a safe environment, through the
use of traffic signals, street lighting, pavement marking and signing, for
the traveling public who use the streets and sidewalks in the City of
Bellingham. We will place high emphasis on quality and especially teamwork
with other departments/divisions with whom we interact.
three major tasks that Traffic and Communications handle are:
Traffic and Communications also does work on the radios for city
departments including Parks, Police and Fire as well as Western Washington
University, WTA and various fire districts.
Traffic and Communications does not decide where to place new signs. They
only maintain existing signs, signals, and street lights. Anybody interested
in new signs, signals or street lights should contact the
Operations Division of Public Works.
Reports of problems (burnt out bulbs, malfunctions, etc.) should be
reported to Public Works.
Work on traffic signals falls into three general categories:
- Preventative maintenance is performed on each traffic signal
controller each month. Every controller is given a cursory check for
proper operation and the intersection is walked around checking
pedestrian push buttons and visually checking the intersection for
needed repairs. Cleaning up graffiti on cabinets is starting to become a
- Lamps are changed once each year. While replacing the bulbs, the
lenses and refractors are cleaned, and the alignment of the lights is
checked, along with the condition of the pole.
- Trouble calls for accident damage or malfunction are answered as
they come in during working hours. After hours, calls are handled
according to a priority system set up by Maintenance and Engineering
personnel. Some are responded to immediately and some are left on flash
until the following morning. Troubles range from lights being out and
detectors malfunctioning in the streets to electronic failures in the
Traffic signs and pavement markings
Work on the signs and pavement markings generally is one of two
- Sign maintenance consists of replacing signs, posts, or anchors.
Washing sign faces, straightening posts, visibility checks, reflectivity
testing, new sign installation, etc. are considered sign maintenance.
Signs marked with graffiti must be replaced, since the paint cannot be
removed without also removing the reflective coating on the sign.
- Pedestrian cross-walks, stop bars, symbols, no parking signs and
parking stalls are either marked using plastic material or paint. These
items are again installed using city forces and contract work during the
summer months. Generally cross walks, symbols and stop bars are placed
using plastic marking tape. If the road surface is unusually rough,
paint is used. Curb surfaces where there are no parking zones, loading
zones, and handicapped zones are painted, as are fog lines, bicycle
lanes, and some center lanes. Stripes are also painted in the Central
Business District and Fairhaven area which mark parking stalls. Painting
can only be done in the summertime, since the pavement must be warm and
can not have any moisture trapped in it. All paint jobs are placed on a
list and done when weather permits. Button installation is also
accomplished during the summer time. This consists of installing buttons
on new street surfaces or replacing buttons that are missing or damaged.
City-operated street lights
Work on street lights is usually one of four activities:
- Relamp street lights. Each year 1/5 of the total number of lights
are relamped. Lenses are cleaned and each installation is checked for
- Replace burn-outs. This is done on as needed basis. As they are
reported they are replaced within three working days. This includes
repair of defective luminaries, contactors or replacement of photo
- Replace accident damage. This task is done as knock-downs are
reported. This can also include contactor cabinets that have been hit by
vehicles. It consists of replacing bases, poles, luminaries or contactor
cabinets as required. Whatever is damaged beyond repair is replaced with
- Other general maintenance consists of painting cabinets or poles as
required. Graffiti is starting to become a problem. Periodically, new
street light poles are installed to replace those that have deteriorated
beyond their useful life.