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Project Overview

This study is in response to the Request for Proposal C-06-08, entitled “Develop Guidelines for Traffic Signal Energy Back-Up Systems” issued by the University Transportation Research Center (UTRC) under the auspices of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). The team assembled for this contract includes UTRC member Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and non-UTRC member Advanced Energy Conversion, LLC (AEC). Hereafter, the study team shall be referred to as the Consultant and the NYSDOT Project Manager/Technical Working Group will be referred to as NYSDOT.

Deliverables in the project are of two types: task reports and workshop proceedings. For all workshops, minutes shall be kept and proceedings shall be published. For every task, there shall be a task report. A draft electronic copy in MS WORD format of every report/deliverable shall be given to NYSDOT for review and comment. The Consultant shall prepare a final version of the report/deliverable incorporating comments from NYSDOT. Upon completion of the task deliverables to NYSDOT, the Consultant expects to publish papers and presentations dealing with this research.

Power outages affect traffic signalized intersections, leading to potentially serious problems. Current practices of operating these intersections are somewhat primitive, ranging from ‘do nothing’ to installing portable generators. As stated in the RFP during the years 2003 and 2004, 80 – 90% of dark signal accidents resulted in injuries compared to 33% for the average New York State accident. The goal of this project is to evaluate and make recommendations about power alternatives when the primary power to a signal fails. These recommendations shall cover a variety of different alternatives so that cost effective options may be available for a range of intersections. Along with the alternative power recommendations the Consultant shall provide guidelines for selecting intersections to outfit with these power sources.

More specifically, the project shall:

  • recommend cost effective methods for alternative power at traffic signals in New York State;
  • develop a methodology for identifying New York State traffic signals to be outfitted with an alternative energy power source which includes the development of a warrant for the installation of a backup power source;

  • identify the pros and cons of each of alternative and

  • present a final implementation plan.

In addition to providing guidelines to ensure uninterrupted power service at critical intersections there are other benefits. With the addition of an alternate power source to the New York State Highway Traffic Signal System, the increased injury rate that occurred during signal outages would significantly decrease, creating a safer, more reliable transportation system. The integrity of the mobility at the intersections would remain uncompromised, eliminating the confusion between motorists caused when a signal goes dark. If a major evacuation was underway and the signal system was not functioning, major delays would be present; if the signals were still operating the mobility would be less affected.