Updated 1:25 p.m. Police are standing by both intersections to make sure everything runs smoothly for approaching trains, but authorities say the arms appear to be operating properly.
Updated 1:10 p.m.: South Pasadena Police sent out a Nixle Alert that the crossing guard arms were stuck in the down position again at Mission Street and Meridian Avenue and Orange Grove and Indiana avenues. MTA officials were headed to the scene. It is unclear how long a full restoration will take, authorities said.
Earlier: The guard arms that prevent traffic from passing over the MTA train tracks at several South Pasadena intersections malfunctioned during the morning rush hour Thursday, stranding and frustrating motorists.
Signal problems started just before 6 a.m. and lasted until 8:45 a.m., said MTA spokesman Dave Sotero. The signal issue led to malfunctioning guard arms at five locations (one in Highland Park at Figueroa), that were intermittently stuck in a down position, he said.
For the intersections MTA considered major traffic arteries, officials sent workers to manually lift the gates to allow motorists to pass, he said. Those train track intersections were Figueroa at the Metro station in Highland Park, Pasadena Avenue and Monterey Road and Mission Street and Meridian Avenue.
The problems delayed train service between South Pasadena and Highland Park for seven to eight minutes in both directions, Sotero said. But the traffic backup appeared to be the larger problem.
"I wanted to rip my hair out,'' Diane St. Clair wrote on the South Pasadena Patch Facebook page.
"Had to go across the tracks twice from Fair Oaks to San Pascual Stables in the Arroyo took 20 minutes and back across to Fremont and Mission another 20 minutes. Guard arms on the tracks, trains and lights WAY out of sync...Though in all fairness that's the first time since we moved to SoPas in 2 1/2 years,'' she said.
The first report of a problem came into the South Pasadena Police Department just after 8:30 a.m., said Sgt. Tony Abdalla. Police notified the MTA and deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, who direct traffic when there's an MTA issue, he said.
"The arms were in a down position so there was not a danger to public safety,'' he said, noting it would have been much worse if the guard arms were stuck in the upright position, allowing access to the tracks while a train was coming.
The arms were functioning properly just before 9 a.m., said Abdalla.
In terms of signal malfunction, Sotero considered Thursday's problem minor, but did apologize to anyone who was caught in it.
"The amount of time was relatively short. But during rush hour it's never convenient for anyone [to be stuck],'' he said.