Signal in the rain

Signal in the rain
Gene Kelly was all smiles during this rain storm - probably because he didn't have to drive through it.

We all learned in my post last week about the importance of obeying traffic signals to stay safe and so as to avoid making unwanted donations to the City of Chicago.

But what happens when it rains and the traffic signals go berserk?

I’d classify Chicago as a pretty tough city. People joke that other cities shut down after two inches of snow, but Chicago schools and businesses will rarely close their doors because of weather. We have systems in place for snow storms, hail storms, thunder storms, and lightening storms, and we laugh at Mother Nature’s weak attempts at precipitation.

Until this summer.

In my quarter of a century of existence, I have never before seen so many power outages in June and July until summer 2011. Power outages in snow storms is understandable; but rain-induced outages are just criminal.

I think about this whenever I drive by my new least-favorite intersection – Peterson and Western avenues in Chicago. It seems as though every time it rains, the traffic signal there goes out for days at a time. When planning my route to work (and the route choices are infinite in my 20-mile commute), I have to think: Did it drizzle in the past month? If yes, then I certainly can’t take Peterson – I’ll be sitting at the light there for half an hour, waiting for cars to figure out whose turn it is to cross the intersection.

All of a sudden, Chicago has become cowardly, shriveling at any sign of water. Oh no! It rained for a few hours – the traffic signal is now a flashing red light. Oh dear! We got a light drizzle – close down the street. What to do? Someone spilled their water bottle – close down the schools!

In all seriousness, maybe on days when we get a little sprinkle, the city can take the $200 I donated to them and invest in a policeman to direct traffic at Peterson and Western – and all those other intersections that are prone to being afraid of a little H20 –  to speed things up a little and restore some semblance of safety.

I believe it rained in 2007, so I better leave for work now so I can get there in time – for a meeting next week.


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