Sunday, February 7, 2016

Forget roundabouts — go with solar-powered traffic signals

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 4:50 p.m.

The Elkhart Truth reports that a proposed roundabout at the intersection of S.R. 19, S.R. 119 and C.R. 44 will likely go through in spite of the fact that it may be detrimental to milk and livestock haulers in the area. The supposed justification is that intersections with traffic lights cost more to maintain.

I would propose that officials look into equipment that costs less to operate and maintain.

Most farmers have at least heard of solar-powered electric fences that work even when power is out at the home or the barn where it is located. These fences do not result in electric bills. Maintenance costs involve replacement batteries only.

I am quite sure that electric utility costs for traffic lights are not low — they’re probably billed at commercial rates. Why not solar-powered traffic signals?

A solar photovoltaic panel can be mounted on a pole or suspended from cables over an intersection to recharge batteries in an underground vault (think insulated septic tank) to protect the batteries from freezing and damage from accidents. Solar powered traffic signals would remain operational even during power outages, which could be safer than unlighted roundabouts and intersections.