These are some things you might see along a road that were not included in traffic school.


Often called a strobe receiver. This device changes the traffic lights to allow emergency vehicles the right of way. When the vehicle flashes a strobe (the blinking white light atop the roof) the device changes the traffic lights.

Rumors persist that the strobe can be made to work by flashing the brights on the car. Unless the car lights are angled at the receiver and can blink between 6-8 times a second, it cannot happen. Those that believe the rumor accept any change in the lights as proof. Without any regard to how long they had to wait for something to happen.
This strobe receiver was elevated for easier view from the street.

Not a Plynth

Found along Pacific Avenue downtown Santa Cruz, are concrete blocks with a decorative railing. These are not for displaying art.  They are the housing for water values.

Pole Numbers

Lamp poles all have a unique number.  If a lamp is out, you can report the pole number to Public Works and it can be repaired. (This can take up to six months.) Lamp poles along the freeway are serviced by CalTrans. Others are either city, county, school, or private.


Utility poles also include an address.  If the pole number is missing, the address is needed to find it.

Notice the address of 311 below the pole number?

Painted Lines

Before construction on a road, the area is surveyed and the underground utilities are marked. They are color coded. RED is electrical, ORANGE is communication, YELLOW is gas, BLUE is water, GREEN is waste (storm drain or sewer), and WHITE is for construction notes.

Sometime  flags are used as utility markers. If the flag has lettering on it, it might be a note for the landscaper. This indicates the flow and direction of a water pipe.

Chiseled Curb Lettering

The letter "S" can be found on street curbs to indicate where the sewer connection is located.  At some street corners you can see the name of the street in the curb. In the days of horse and wagons this was the typical means of identifying streets. Drivers of automobiles found this difficult to view, causing the street signs to be put onto poles.  You can still see a few street names carved into street corners.

Sewer marker.


Only a few streets still have curbs carved with the street name.


Curb Numbers

Numbers painted in white with black numbers on a curb are the result of a scam. Residents get a notice to pay for numbers painted on the curb. The notice includes works like "official" and "safety" to sound legitimate.  White paint on curbs is a traffic color, and cannot be applied except by authorized workers.  The curb is not owned by the property owner. That is part of the street, and owned by the city or county.  If the scam was attempted in the business part of town, the scam workers would be told to leave.   In San Francisco, people have been arrested for this. A frequent trick to get money.

Blue Reflectors

A blue reflector in the road indicates there is a fire hydrant near the curb. Typically the blue reflected is off center to show the direction to the fire hydrant.

Blue markers are needed because some fire hydrants are not easy to see from the road.

Corner Ramps

To make it easier for wheelchairs to cross a street, ramps were added to street corners and crosswalks. The city of Santa Cruz, took the extra effort of adding the ramps to the residential streets. Residential street already have a series of ramps located about every 30 feet (often called "driveways").

Red arrows show the driveways of this corner house.  Black arrows show where a ramp was installed. (Click to enlarge image.)

Small Green Box

The small green box is for cable connection points. Usually for telephone lines.  These boxes can be opened to add connections to the wires.  Much easier than digging them up every time.  There is a slang term for these boxes. Some telephone workers call them, "green mushrooms."


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