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New traffic signals on far side of intersections

February 18, 2012
By DAVE WERNER ( , Franklin County Traffic Safety Board

With the three new traffic signals recently activated in Malone, drivers should notice a major change from past practice by the state Department of Transporation - the signals are located on the far side of the intersection. This is a relatively new preferred option by DOT state-wide, and there are several advantages over placement of the signals on a wire strung diagonally across the intersection as has been the standard practice in New York.

A further enhancement to these new signals is that they are suspended on mast arms rather than hanging from cables. This gives a cleaner look to the installation, keeps the wiring enclosed and protected from weather, and provides greater stability for the signal heads in high winds. In some instances, box span wire will be used rather than mast arms. In these installations, the signals are hung from a cable connecting the four poles in the intersection. This allows for mounting the signal heads on the far side but lacks the advantages of the mast arms.

Additional advantages of placing the signal heads on the far side of the intersection include:

As with any change, there are always some drawbacks. In far-side signal installations, four poles plus foundations are required rather than two, adding to the total cost. However, the foundations and poles are slightly smaller in size. Further, four poles provides for installing pedestrian signals where necessary.

The gradual change to the new design actually began with a presentation to DOT Region 7 headquarters in Watertown by Franklin County Traffic Safety Board vice-chairman, Dave Werner, and Federal Highway Administration Transportation Safety Engineer, Emmett McDevitt in March, 2009. This played a key role in the decision to install far-side signals as standard practice. The far-side signal information was subsequently presented to the Regional Traffic Engineers representing the other 10 regions of New York State by Marty Percy, Regional Traffic Engineer in Watertown. The result is that DOT is now using far-side signal placement for new installations as standard practice throughout the state.

It also should be noted that the 2009 edition of the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices strongly recommends far-side signal configuration.



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