Highway Patrol Citing Drivers on Patterson Pass

On Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 I was headed on Patterson Pass to Cross Rd. to take pictures, as I often do.  There was a fire on Tesla Rd. and I figured Cross Rd. would be a good place to shoot the smoke and the local barns.  At the beginning of Patterson Pass at Greenville Rd. there is a sign that states “Road Closed to Thru Traffic”, that sign does not indicate you cannot go to Flynn Rd. and turn, as many folks do.

Prior to getting to Patterson Pass (headed South-bound on Greenville) one sees this sign:

detour sign


Soon there after:

detour sign 2

Now, what these signs mean, who knows? Cross Rd. is on the other side of town…

“End Detour”? Great… when did I detour?

 While Patterson Pass states that the road is closed ahead, the first sign after that encountered is this:

closed where


Where is the road closed at?  Mile marker 6.4!  About 5 1/2 miles from this spot.  Yet, just past Flynn Rd. was another sign, not blocking the road, also stating “Road Closed to Thru Traffic”.



road closed traffic sign
This is the actual sign
road closed traffic sign 2
Notice how it is set so you can drive past it.

It was not my intention to go “thru” Patterson Pass,  but to head up to Cross Rd., which was well before mm 6.4 to take photos.

The California Highway Patrol had two vehicles hidden just behind the curve shown in the top photo.  There they had 3 cars pulled over and motioned me to do so as well.   I pulled over and provided my license and registration to the officer.  As I waited, more cars appeared behind us and the officers signaled them to stop as well. After waiting several minutes, the officer returned and had me sign a citation for  a violation of “21461(a)”.




Every government website states that Patterson Pass is closed at mile marker 6.4:


Road Closure Notice






Notice that the closure is stated at every government website to be at mile marker 6.4.  Not before it.

There is no mention of the road closure on CalTrans site:


There is no mention of either the road closure nor enforcement on the CHP website or road conditions map site.

I was given a citation for a violation of “21461(a)” –

Obedience by Driver to Official Traffic Control Devices

21461. (a) It is unlawful for a driver of a vehicle to fail to obey a sign or signal defined as regulatory in the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, or a Department of Transportation approved supplement to that manual of a regulatory nature erected or maintained to enhance traffic safety and operations or to indicate and carry out the provisions of this code or a local traffic ordinance or resolution adopted pursuant to a local traffic ordinance, or to fail to obey a device erected or maintained by lawful authority of a public body or official.

Exactly, what sign did I fail to obey?  My intent was to go to Cross Rd., not to drive through Patterson Pass.

The sign does not state that “no traffic allowed”, nor “local traffic only allowed” (regardless, why wouldn’t I be considered local traffic, given that I work less than 2 miles from the spot of the citation?)    Plus, according to every government website, the road is closed “at mile marker 6.4” many miles beyond where the CHP had set up their roadblock.

I now face a fine of $234 and a point on my license because I didn’t “obey” an ambiguous traffic sign that neither told me where, or when the road was closed and was in opposition to the posted public documents found on their websites.






UPDATE 8/20/2015

I wrote to ACPWA.org on 8/19 and informed them of my displeasure at being cited for their ambiguous signage and received a terse reply from Nanci Collins. I then revisited Patterson Pass today to document the signage, and found new signs and a better detour/road closure there.

road closed 8-20
THIS is how you close a road.


This is the scene now where that “road closed to thru traffic” sign was.  There’s no getting past that, however the previous orange sign still states that Patterson Pass is closed at mm 6.4.