New traffic signals must be framed in yellow

The in basket:  Gary Reed says, “I see the new traffic signals at the Bremerton end of the Manette bridge have yellow reflective tape or paint around the edge of the fixture. …I have been seeing that treatment more often around lately, and not just in Kitsap County.

“What is the purpose of the reflective tape or paint?” he asked. “I’m sure it must add many more dollars to the cost of the fixture.

“And why must we have two fixtures per lane? Surely technology has advanced to the point where two bulbs (LED’s maybe) can be used, with a circuit designed to hold one in reserve and trigger a small indicator on the outside of the fixture that one lamp needs replacing. If it is a law that requires the two fixtures per lane, seems it would be easy to allow a modern unit with the stroke of a pen.”

The out basket: I first saw the yellow edging at the Sedgwick interchange on Highway 16 a few years ago, and was told it was done to make the signal heads more visible in a power outage, to alert drivers to cross traffic and the need to treat it as an all-way stop. I was told then it was being used where power outages were most common.

Don Anders of the Olympic Region signal shop, says, “This edging started as a pilot project when they first went in several years ago.  They are now required on all new signal projects and also required in the 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices which WSDOT adopted recently.

“The cost is minimal for this product,” he said, “but I do have concerns with how it will hold up over time because we will have to replace as needed.”

Its basic reason is “for power outages at night so the vehicle displays can be seen when dark,” Don said.

“The dual display (of signal heads) for each major movement has been a federal requirement for many years,” he said, “and is to provide better visibility and extra safety if one lamp burns out.  I doubt that rule will change because in the new 2009 MUTCD more vehicle displays are now required than in the past.”

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