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Sonoma County Gazette
Penngrove Station By Lyndi Brown
Flashing red lights at a railroad crossing, signals the roadway is closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic. This is an unconditional stop and wait signal.

Railroad Crossing
Stop and Don't proceed

Feb 27, 2019
by Lyndi Brown



It’s tasty and some say it’s the best around -- brought to you by Penngrove Social Firemen. All proceeds help maintain Community Clubhouse and Penngrove Park, for the benefit of the community. Come and join us!

WHEN: Saturday, March 9 from 4:00 to 7:00 pm

WHERE: At the Penngrove Clubhouse, 385 Woodward Ave.

WHAT: Corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. Meat  is handmade by award-winning Bud’s Meats. Dessert can be purchased from the Penngrove 4-H. 

COST: Adults $15.00, Children under 12, $8. Tickets are sold at the door.

For more information, call Stan Pronzini at 707 217-7161.


Classes at Sonoma State’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) offer older adults an opportunity to continue their education without tests and grades in a fun, relaxed, congenial environment. Learn more about OLLI ‘s once-a-week classes and enjoy a sample lecture on artists of the post-WWII New York School – Jackson Pollack, Lee Krasner, Mark Rothko, and more – all of whose work we can see at S.F.’s Museum of Modern Art. Presenter Linda Loveland Reid is chair of  OLLI’s Community Outreach Program and a popular art lecturer.

The free talk is at 1:00 to 2:30 pm, at Petaluma Regional Library, 100 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma.  Please RSVP to or 776-6055. 


Let’s learn a little more about those crazy flashing lights at the odd traffic signal at the Main Street / Woodward railroad crossing. 

First: when the railroad crossing “crossbuck” lights are flashing, the bells are ringing, and the gates are descending, get outta there! A train is near! 

Legally, while red lights are flashing at a railroad crossing, the roadway is closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic. This is  an unconditional stop and wait signal, not a proceed with caution signal. Common sense and the CA vehicle codes dictate that you stop your vehicle short of crossing gates, and wait behind the double white line while railroad crossing signals are active. When a train is past, wait until the gates are fully vertical and crossbuck flashing lights are turned off, before proceeding through the crossing. Be certain there is enough space on the roadway beyond the crossing for your vehicle to quickly clear the railroad track, especially when traffic congestion is on the roadway (as occurs during morning and afternoon commute gridlock). Note: the ticket for being stopped inside the crossing zone ranges upwards to $490. 

Second,  if your car is inside the crossing and the crossing signal becomes activated, a train can arrive within 30 seconds. Drive forward and get your vehicle off the tracks as quickly as possible. Even if it means driving your vehicle off the asphalt into the rough, onto a sidewalk, or into the opposite lane. Better to save your life and possibly damage to your vehicle, than have injury or destruction. 

Now, about that queue cutter: No ordinary traffic signal, this is extra protection at a particularly hazardous railroad crossing. Not a typical traffic light. It warns drivers that either: 1) a train is approaching, or 2) traffic is halting on the roadway beyond the crossing. Vehicle detection loops buried in the roadway sense the movement of cars and trucks, and when gridlock occurs with cars potentially blocked in or trapped on the crossing, the queue cutter activates and initiates a traffic stop. The signals flash yellow, then solid yellow, then steady red, and finally settle into an alternating red sequence (just like crossbucks). When you observe these red lights at a rail crossing, it’s an unconditional stop signal (not a stop and proceed with caution signal). 

Sonoma County Public Works, the roadway authority, was compelled to install this unusual queue cutter signal as a warning to motorists not to enter the crossing during gridlock conditions. 

Bottom line: Those red lights mean stop and don't proceed. Drivers, please do the safe thing: wait until ALL red lights go out before entering the most dangerous intersection in Sonoma County. And, just ignore the taunts of impatient drivers with itchy horn fingers.




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