OAKLAND (KCBS) — Thousands of electronic road sensors buried by Caltrans under California highways are not functioning, making it problematic for traffic-information gathering.

There are 27,000 traffic sensors buried under thousands of miles of pavement that help troubleshoot both daily commutes and long-term maintenance needs on some of the nation’s most heavily used and congested roadways.

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According to Caltrans, about 9,000 of them no longer work.

The outages are significant enough that the sensors no longer provide useful information to the public.

KCBS’ traffic reporter Kim Wonderley said that the sensors help her report on traffic but that they are only one element in real-time reporting.

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“Say an accident happens northbound on the Nimitz Freeway at Hegenberger Road, how soon does that that get into your road-sensor program?—they vary wildly,” she said.

“That’s the great thing about KCBS—we’re still flying aircraft over the scene.”

Wonderley said she can compare that information that Ron Cervi is seeing get a snapshot before Caltrans posts the sensor feedback on their mapping program.

In the Fresno and San Francisco Bay areas alone, Caltrans plans to spend $35 million to fix sensors as well as freeway lights, cameras, ramp meters and other electrical systems that are down due to metal scavengers or other problems.

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