February 25, 2013 in City

Getting There: New LED signs planned for I-90, Highway 2

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Map of this story's location

Five electronic highway signs on Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 2 in the Spokane area are getting an update this year.

The existing signs date to 1995 and use outdated technology.

New signs are being installed with LED lamps that will be more visible to motorists and use less power.

The Washington State Department of Transportation awarded an $800,000 grant to Colvico Inc., of Spokane, for the installations this spring.

The new signs will be on westbound U.S. Highway 2 near Spotted Road; on eastbound Interstate 90 at Geiger Road, Division Street and just east of Havana Street; and on westbound I-90 near University Road.

Daktronics, which makes the signs, said they use “energy-efficient, low-maintenance, light emitting diode (LED) technology with a half-life of approximately 100,000 hours,” using about a third of the electricity as the old signs.

The new signs will be controlled by computer from the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center in downtown Spokane.

The old signs had to be individually programmed. The new controls make programming much easier, said Al Gilson, regional spokesman for WSDOT.

Several of the newer types of message signs are in use along the North Spokane Corridor and in the northbound lanes of U.S. Highway 195 in southwest Spokane.

Gilson said last week he did not know yet whether the removal of the old signs and installation of the new ones would cause traffic restrictions.

New highway LEDs

In other new technology news, WSDOT on Friday announced that it has installed the first in a new generation of overhead highway lights.

High-pressure sodium lighting is being replaced by the first LED lighting system on a state highway.

The first of the lights is going up at the Black Lake Boulevard interchange on U.S. Highway 101 just west of Olympia.

“This is the first time we’ve used LED lights on a state highway and for most drivers, it will be quite a change,” John Nisbet, WSDOT state traffic engineer, said Friday in a news release.

“LED lights appear whiter and brighter than our standard lights,” he said.

The new technology has an adaptive system that allows WSDOT to change light levels and turn off individual lights when traffic levels are low. The adjustments can be made remotely. The idea is to conserve electricity.

The new lights will last 15 years.

WSDOT is going to evaluate the new system before deciding whether to replace the 60,000 lights along the state highway system.

Lane restrictions

Construction of a new interchange on U.S. 195 at Cheney-Spokane Road could cause some lane restrictions while a contractor removes a concrete traffic island and gets ready for construction. Part of the work involves widening of Cheney-Spokane.

At another location, state crews this week will be refurbishing lighting on I-90 from Latah Creek to Division.

Pothole reporting

In Spokane, the city has set up a new system for reporting potholes digitally.

The new service is available at myspokane.spokanecity.org/mobile.

People can enter information about the size and location of the pothole, pinpoint the location on a map and send along a photo. The information will go to the street department, and the pothole will be scheduled for repair.

For those who prefer older technology, potholes can still be reported by calling (509) 625-7733.

Licensing office moving

The Spokane County Auditor’s Office is moving its motor vehicle and vessel licensing office to a new location within the county’s historic courthouse building.

The office closed Friday and will remain closed today to allow for the move to the county’s customer service center.

Licensing can still be done at any of the county’s eight contract offices.

Additional moves are expected within the courthouse, including moving the family law court from the main floor to an upper floor.

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