Monday, February 19 , 2018, 8:32 am | Fair 49º


Mike Moropoulos: Road Conditions? We Have Your Number — Somewhere

Caltrans hotline is right at your fingertips, at least when you remember to take it with you.

Once upon a time ...

Actually, this is not a fairy tale, just a dumb and dumber episode minus the dumber.

I was co-hosting with John Henigin on the Saturday morning FishTalk Radio show and had this hot phone number I was going to pass on to our listeners. I talked it up, told them I never leave home without it, that it was an “800” freebie, and very simple to access. I had never found it busy. And so listeners, get your pad and pencil out, are you ready for the magic number? Uh, give me a second here, I jotted it down just before I left home. John, can you pick it up for a bit, it’s right here someplace — not. Is there a stronger word than embarrassment?

Talk about a bailout! An anonymous listener who had read an earlier newspaper column phoned the station and filled in the blanks: 1.800.427.7623. I’m still indebted.

And how many times have you — or we — grumbled about those guys in orange jamming up the highways? Of course, I’m talking about the ubiquitous Caltrans crews we love to lay the blame on. But there is mitigation in the air: It says “Welcome to the Caltrans Highway Information Service.”

It is all I mentioned earlier — and more. It essentially provides information by telephone about every highway in California, including weather conditions, closures, advisories, restrictions, alternate routes, but not traffic conditions. It is essential information during winter weather.

Here is the procedure:

» Dial the assigned number and hear: “Welcome to the Caltrans Highway Information Service.”

» After admonishing you to drive with caution and enhance the safety of Caltrans workers you will be asked to “say or enter” the number of your requested highway.

» More than likely you will be asked to say or enter the section of that highway — Southern California, Central California or Northern California (1, 2 or 3)

» You will hear that there are no advisories or restrictions, or you might hear ... (listen closely.)

» The procedure will then be repeated in the event you want information on additional roadways.

I hope that list does not make it seem more complicated than it is. It is seriously simple. Actually, all you need to do is respond to two scenarios: (1) say or enter the number of your highway (101, 5, 41, 54, etc.) then, when asked, say or enter 1, 2 or 3 to indicate the region of interest.

That’s it. As you probably surmised I have not committed the number to memory (memory?) neither should you — post it in your vehicle. Try it.

And as you are tempted to grumble about a lane closure for maintenance remember that those guys in the orange wear it for a reason; they are yards away from speeding cars, drunken drivers and verbal abuse. Be safe, Caltrans workers, we’ll just call you the 1.800.427.7623 guys.

Noozhawk contributor Mike Moropoulos is a longtime outdoors writer in Santa Barbara.

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