Friday, December 18, 2009

Bluffton Gets Solar Stop Sign

Lights glow
on 300W
Safety upgrades now in place at
intersections with Ind. 124, Ind. 116
Wells County has gone high tech in an effort to save lives
at two county intersections.
New Solar Panel Flashing LED “Stop” signs have been
installed at two intersections along 300W, in an effort to
reduce accidents and save lives. The signs are on the north
and south approaches of 300W to Ind. 116 and Ind. 124, and
officially began operation at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
The two intersections have long been recognized as two of the most dangerous intersections in the county. Multiple fatal accidents have occurred at both over the years, especially at the Ind. 116 intersection.The purpose of an LED flashing “Stop” sign is to bring more recognition to the signs at the intersections. Fort Wayne District is the first district in Indiana to have this type of signage, and in turn, Wells County is the first county in the Fort Wayne District to request the partnership. Wells County Commissioner Kevin Woodward began the discussions with Deputy Commissioner Bob Alderman early this year, and this has resulted in the four 48-inch LED “Stop” signs being installed at the two intersections. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Fort Wayne District and Wells County have partnered to determine the effectiveness of the new technology signs. INDOT is allowing the signs to be used at the two intersections for evaluation of the product, with the effectiveness to be tested over a period of three years. Wells County provided funding for the signs, and is also responsible for the costs of installation and maintenance. “This has been a real team effort,” enthused Commissioner Kevin Woodward. “Sheriff Bob Frantz has been instrumental through all of this, with his experience, all of the commissioners, and Deputy Commissioner Alderman and his staff were right there in support. I think it’s a great partnership, that hopefully a model that the rest of the state will be able to use in the future to make Hoosier highways safer.” The area will be monitored by INDOT, Wells County, and also by several enforcement entities. Each sign contains small red LED lights around the perimeter, which make the signs visible from a far greater distance. The lights flash every one second. The sign can operate for 14 days without solar power, and the life of the battery attached to each sign is five years. The signs meet the standards of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and also, should the lights not work, the sign sheeting meets INDOT’s reflectivity standards. In addition to the new signs, rumble strips have also been installed along 300W, close to the intersections. “We’re hoping that with the rumble strips, stop ahead signs, and the flashing, it will definitely alert more people that there is an intersection, and hopefully it will allow them to stop,” anticipated Woodward. Sheriff Frantz is also hoping the new equipment proves successful. “Over the years there have been many horrible accidents here,” reflected Sheriff Frantz. “It is pretty open here, but if somebody (on 300W) doesn’t see the stop sign, and they don’t stop, it just creates a real impact. Every time we have a wreck here, it’s just awful. Even if nobody is killed, they are hurt bad, and there is just a lot of damage.” County and INDOT officials are certainly doing their part to reduce the risk of future accidents at the two
intersections. The rest is up to the motorists!

Frank Shanly
Bluffton News Banner

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