Reporting a Defective Traffic Signal: FAIL

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume you wanted to report a defective traffic signal near Poughkeepsie, NY. You know, from previous experience, that it’s on a New York State Road, so you should contact the New York State Department of Transportation; you also know that you’re in DOT Region 8 and that you’re in the Poughkeepsie Residency, so you can find the right DOT branch.

In this day and age, you might think the NYSDOT website would have a conspicuous link to a form that would let you report a problem. But, no.

Failing that, you might think the website would have a link to the number you should call. But, no.

Failing that, you might think that the search box would turn up useful results when fed the obvious keywords. But, no.

Failing that, you might think calling various likely numbers in the Region 8 offices would produce the proper number. I won’t list the half-dozen numbers I’ve uncovered using that method, as none of them actually go to the right place.

It is common for such numbers within NYSDOT to ring forever, regardless of the time of day or day of week. I am told that one number isn’t actually within DOT any more, so some poor schlub gets all their repair calls; it’s probably worse than having Rachael call you every day or two.

My favorite dead end: an answering machine message telling you it’s not monitored and calls will not be returned, then giving an incomprehensible number-to-call and the usual “Leave your name and number after the beep” message, then beeping.

To make a very long story very short, the Galactic Number that you call to report traffic signal problems on NYS DOT roads is:

914-742-6100

It’s not toll-free (not a big deal in this day and age, but, still) and, of course, you’ll get a contractor, so be polite & patient. Your call should generate a work order that will, in due time, dispatch a crew to repair the offending signal.

It will be exceedingly helpful if you can report the number on the side of the signal control box, for which Google Streetview may reveal what you can’t see from any legal or safe position:

Signal Control Box ID by Google Streetview
Signal Control Box ID by Google Streetview

If you want to report a pothole, on the other hand, they’ve got a hotline for that:

1-800-POTHOLE

Who’d’a thunk it?