What’s the Point of This Light Pole?

On the ocean side of W. Carrillo Street at the 101, there’s a standard light pole. In addition to the usual light, it has two orange lights, one red light, and one green light. I thought they might be related to the train tracks, but they appear to be too far away. I have Googled this endlessly and cannot figure out what it is. Do you know? —G.

First, I checked with the folks at the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, because they often send press releases about train service. but they said it’s actually Caltrans equipment. “Those lights are tied up to our pump houses,” explained a member of Caltrans’s maintenance staff. “The lights let us know if the pumps are running or not working or if there’s an alarm.”

Unsure what a pump house is, I Googled it, and then figured I should actually search what the specific purpose of a Caltrans pump house might be. Lo and behold, the video below from Caltrans popped up. If you don’t want to watch it, the quick summary is that (a) the pump house drains water from the freeway when it’s flooded; (b) the green light is to let Caltrans staff tell from a distance whether there’s electricity, which is important because the two pumps use an electric sensor to determine the water level; (c) the amber lights means the pumps are working (so it had better be raining or something is wrong); and (d) the red light indicates an alarm. (When I went to take these photos, none of the lights appeared to be on at all, but perhaps the morning sun was making it difficult to see them.)

Got a question? Email [email protected] or text 917-209-6473.


Previous Burning Questions:
••• Why is the Hermosillo exit on the 101 closed?
••• Has Victor the Florist closed for good?
••• Why are the city’s parking lots scanning license plates?
••• What’s inside Paseo Nuevo’s State Street tower?
••• What’s the point of these markings on Laguna Street?
••• Why is there a giant red shoe off Highway 101?
••• Is Timbers Restaurant in Goleta really going to reopen?
••• Will the Dorinda Triangle ever get beautified?
••• Are we no longer allowed on the SBHS baseball field?
••• What does “SBTP” on this post mean?
••• What’s up with the “no e-bike” signs on local trails?
••• Why is Franceschi House in a holding pattern?
••• Why is there a train station inside this State Street storefront?
••• What’s happening with this derelict house in Summerland?
••• Is there a story behind Lucky Penny’s bell?
••• Why is there wood on some power lines?
••• Can you explain how sundowner winds work?
••• Why is there a pressure cooker attached to this utility pole?
••• What’s this concrete ramp thing on East Beach?
••• Why does “USA” get written on the street?
••• What are those poles in the ocean near the Ritz-Carlton Bacara?
••• Are people really allowed to set fires in the middle of Montecito?
••• What’s the story with the half-finished lot next to the Montecito Country Mart? 


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One Comment

Linda West

When the army corp of engineers rerouted Mission Creek in a concrete swale and Cal Trans built the 101 freeway they essentially cut off all the west side (backside of the mesa and Ellings park) water runoff from Mission Creek that meandered to the west side at the now Bohnett park. This water is what occasionally floods the west side. There is now a newer storm drain system to handle some of this flooding issue, but much of the water still works it’s way underground trying to reach Mission creek and the ocean. 101 and the concrete culvert obstructs it’s way as does Carrillo street, thus the need for this pump station . Following the path of least resistance this groundwater in route to the ocean pops up at the ever saturated Castillo underpass. CalTrans has wrongly called this “sea water” but it is actually the west side watershed which they ignored during the freeway designing coming back to haunt them.