Traffic lights being installed

Friday, December 18, 2009
S&W Electrical Contractors' employees drill holes 14-15 feet deep for utility poles. Traffic signals at Rock Crusher Road and North Ellington Parkway will be hung from wires strung between the poles.

Just in time for Christmas and the New Year, Lewisburg Electric's contractor is installing a traffic light at Rock Crusher Road, North Ellington Parkway and Fifth Avenue North.

It was early December last year when a Tennessee Department of Transportation official said TDOT had decided to permit the installation of traffic controls at the problematic intersection.

However, Lewisburg had to pay for it and when the parkway is widened, the city must pay for the relocation of the signals' poles.

At the intersection this week were S&W Electrical Contractors' employees working under the direction of Kevin Ford.

"We should have the pole bases in by the end of the week," Ford said. "The poles should be up by the end of December and sometime in the middle of January, the lights should be operating."

Various motorists have asked Ford about the work and "I've had a lot of folks tell me this has been a long time in coming. I know there's pretty heavy traffic there."

Locating the lights there has been a problem. The utility poles are anchored by a base that goes down 14-15 feet.

"And most of it has been rock," Ford said." When I pulled up and saw that road name, I knew I was in trouble."

Lewisburg Electric Department General Manager Richard Turner says installation of the lights will cost $82,880. In contrast, signals at West Ellington and Franklin Road cost $102,000 but cameras are not used to control traffic flow there.

Wires embedded in the pavement detect big metal objects - cars, trucks and tractors - and tell the signal system to accommodate motorists.

"We have contracted that out (at Rock Crusher Road) because it's a complicated piece of equipment," Turner said, adding that S&W specializes in that work and the city utility does not have the manpower or equipment to do the job.

"They're the ones who put the light up at Wal-Mart," Turner said of S&W.

Cameras are to be mounted on each pole to help control the traffic flow.

"They're more dependable than the loops" of wire buried in pavement to detect when there's a car waiting for a light to change, Turner said. "Every time a heavy truck rolls over the loop it affects them."

Cameras pose very few problems.

"We're, hopefully, going to coordinate the traffic with the light at Wal-Mart so the traffic doesn't back up and block people coming out of Rock Crusher Road," Turner said.

The two traffic signal systems will communicate by a radio signal.

"Everything we're putting there will work when the highway is rebuilt, everything can be moved except the concrete piers," he said of the foundation for the poles. "We can move it with our own people cheaper than the contractor."

Turner endorses Ford's estimate on when the lights will be operating.

"Once the poles are installed, the rest of it ought to go pretty fast," Turner said, noting the concrete foundation will have to set for about 10 days.