Traffic light update includes removing lights at six intersections

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Messenger photo by Grant Zerkle
The city of London plans to replace its aging traffic lights with brighter, more efficient LED lights and updated control systems. The project also includes removing lights at six intersections, including the lights at First and Main streets.

(Posted April 20, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

A traffic light project could mean a brighter future for London, albeit with fewer lights overall.

City leaders are looking to replace the city’s aging traffic lights with brighter, more efficient LED lights, as well as remove six lights altogether.

“We have had numerous complaints from citizens throughout the winter and spring that the lights aren’t bright enough,” said Rex Castle, London’s safety service director. “We’ve gotten reports of people running lights because they couldn’t tell they were red.”

Breakdowns are a problem, too. Parts for the 20-year-old lights are difficult to find–not just the lights, but also the computers and control boxes that operate them. City officials have been talking for several years about replacing them.

“The lights we have now are obsolete,” Castle said. “There are no new parts to fix them. The company we rely on to get parts only has two or three of those units on the shelves we can scavenge parts from. When they’re gone, they’re gone. We don’t want to get to that point.”

The project encompasses 16 to 18 intersections. The average cost per intersection is $35,000, for a total project cost of $560,000 to $630,000.

The cost would be more, however the city plans to remove lights altogether from six intersections, saving $210,000. Those intersections are:
• High and Union streets;
• High and Oak streets;
• High Street and Westmoor Drive;
• Main and First streets;
• Main and Second streets; and
• Main and Fourth streets.

Before the lights are deactivated at those six intersections, the city will post signs for 30 days notifying motorists of the upcoming change. After the 30-day period, the lights will be deactivated and stop signs will be installed.

City administrators plan to ask permission from city council to apply for a loan to cover the cost of the light project. The plan is to bundle the light project with the purchase of a new fire engine for the fire department. The engine’s approximate cost is $430,000. The combined total would give the city a chance at a better loan rate, Castle said. The proposed legislation likely will go before council on May 6.

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