Drivers Stuck at Maddening Intersections are Getting a Beacon of Hope: Lighted Street Signs

Monday, August 7, 2006

Illuminated signs are not a new idea in traffic engineering but were installed in Chesapeake at one Greenbrier intersection for a trial run several years ago, said Eric Martin, the city's traffic engineer. They were such a hit, the city decided to put up more of the lighted signs at busy intersections - mostly in commercial areas - where roads were being revamped or stoplights were being installed.

"In bad weather, rain, they're much more easily seen," Martin said.

Already, the lighted signs are attached to traffic signal poles at Mount Pleasant Road and Centerville Turnpike and a few other busy spots, Martin said.

Traffic lights going up on Eden Way and Cedar Road also will have the signs, Martin said. A few other Greenbrier intersections will be retrofitted with them. About 25 percent of the city's 126 signals eventually will have the signs installed, Martin said.

The idea first caught on in Virginia Beach in 1991 when lighted street name signs were installed on General Booth Boulevard, said Chuck Applebach, a Beach spokesman. Since then, that city has installed 122 of the signs at 115 locations, including the Oceanfront. The Beach also installs the signs as major intersections are improved or traffic lights are installed, he said.

Martin said that as the number of older drivers increases, traffic engineers are looking for ways to make busy intersections easier to navigate. Recommendations from national and state traffic safety experts include lettering on signs that is larger and easier to read.

The illuminated signs use light-emitting diodes, Martin said. The bulbs are small but bright and are more energy-efficient than traditional light bulbs, he said. The bulbs also last longer, so city crews spend less time disrupting traffic to change them.

The city also is converting its traffic lights from traditional bulbs to light-emitting diodes, Martin said.

Reach Cindy Clayton at (757) 222-5201 or cindy.clayton@pilotonline.com.


Note: Lighted street signs for this installation were manufactured by Carmanah Technologies Corporation.