Carmanah Solar-powered LED pedestrian beacons to be used in San Diego, CA

April 20, 2011
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West Mission Bay Drive is a beautiful part of San Diego for tourists and locals alike. It is near the beach, parks, tourist attractions and of course, the spectacular West Mission Bay.

Thousands of pedestrians flock to the area, and many of them need to cross West Mission Bay Drive, which is a very busy four-lane plus turning lane road, with speeds that commonly reach 50 mph. Average daily traffic volumes (ADT) measured in 1999 were 10,000 westbound and 14,500 eastbound.

The location currently has neither a marked crosswalk nor any other controls, but due to pedestrians wishing to avoid a lengthy walk to the nearest controlled crossing, pedestrians frequently cross at this location. When the sun is setting, drivers cannot see the pedestrians crossing the road. A number of vehicle/pedestrian crashes have been recorded, including more than one death.

The City of San Diego has decided upon a set of treatments to improve safety on West Mission Bay Drive. The center turning lane will be converted to a raised center median & pedestrian island. Further, the safety at the busy crossing in question will be improved with the use of Carmanah’s R820 solar-powered wireless flashing beacons.

The traffic engineers at the City of San Diego knew they needed flashing beacons at the crossing, but traditional hardwired systems presented a number of difficulties. Running power to the crossing requires more than just money and effort… it requires an electrical service point from the power company. And these service points can take months to get and require additional trenching, dragging out the project completion timelines. San Diego also has moratoriums on trench cutting; newly surfaced roads have a moratorium of up to three years before they may be trenched. With these restrictions, planning for projects can be exceptionally difficult.

The R820 flashing beacons were a perfect solution. Because the beacons are solar powered, no electrical permit—let alone electricity—is required. And the R820 beacons communicate via wireless radio, so there is no need to trench the road. Best of all, the City of San Diego found that the price of the R820 beacons was less than that of the hard-wired equivalent. The political benefits of installing a green energy solution didn’t hurt either!

Guidance on this case study gratefully acknowledged to Melody Carpenter, Project Engineer for the City of San Diego.

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