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Construction vehicles can deploy white and amber lights but not emergency reds and blues

Q. Hi Honk: Are the vehicles with the OC 405 Partners insignia on the doors permitted to drive on the streets with their overhead and flashing lights operating? A recent evening, at 9, I was approaching McFadden Avenue and Beach Boulevard and saw one of the vehicles sitting at a red light. It had a light bar on top that was activated, and a red spotlight that was on and facing forward. At first, I thought I was approaching an emergency vehicle until I got closer. I have seen this often since work has begun on the freeway and the overpasses.

– Janice Howard, Westminster

A. OC 405 Partners is two firms, OHL USA and Astaldi Construction Corp., working on the $2 billion, 16-mile widening of the 405 Freeway between the 605 in Seal Beach and the 73 in Costa Mesa.

Construction work is to be completed next year, with motorists getting one more general lane in each direction. A second new lane, on each side, and the existing carpool lane will make up the 405 Express Lanes, a tollway for solo motorists and also vehicles with two people during peak hours, but otherwise free for carpoolers.

Construction vehicles can use flashing amber or white lights, under the law, on or near the site, said Joel Zlotnik, a spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Authority, which is overseeing the project.

“This is to alert and provide caution to drivers traveling through the area,” he said in an email. “We can also utilize white spotlights when used in conjunction with a required work task at night … provided that it is not directed into (the) traveling public to a point it hinders their view.”

Red and blue emergency lights, well, that is a different matter. They are only for authorized emergency vehicles, said Mitch Smith, an officer and spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

Said Zlotnik: “I am not aware of OC 405 vehicles with a red lamp and will separately advise them to review their vehicles to ensure it is not used.”

HONKIN’ FACT No. 1: The California Highway Patrol’s Westminster station is searching for men and women 55 years and older who have a clean driving record and want to volunteer for four or more hours a week. They will go to community events with officers, assist the front-desk officer, perform other tasks and might even help direct traffic after an accident. The volunteers would not do enforcement or be armed. But they would have a unique uniform and badge. Applicants would undergo a background check. For information, contact Officer Smith at gov or at 714-892-4426. If you live elsewhere in Southern California and want to participate, reach out to the local CHP station – various ones already have the program.

HONKIN’ FACT No. 2: At the state Capitol on Thursday, April 28, an orange traffic cone was set out for each Caltrans worker killed on the job since 1921 with the late employee’s name on it. There were 189 cones. But the good news: The last worker killed was more than three and a half years ago – the longest stretch of no deaths in nearly 75 years.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

Source: Orange County Register

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