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State’s first highway LED lights making Olympia brighter

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State’s first highway LED lights making Olympia brighter

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February 25, 2013

OLYMPIA – Within a week, drivers on US 101 west of Olympia will see the Black Lake Boulevard interchange in a whole new light.

Beginning Monday, Feb. 25, Washington State Department of Transportation crews will replace the high-pressure-sodium (HPS) highway lighting with the first light-emitting-diode (LED) lighting system on a state highway.

“This is the first time we’ve used LED lights on a state highways and for most drivers, it will be quite a change,” said John Nisbet, WSDOT state traffic engineer. “LED lights appear whiter and brighter than our standard lights. And those who travel the area late at night will see some lights dimmed or shut off completely.”

Nisbet said the LED system uses new, state-of-the-art technology known as an “adaptive system.” This will allow WSDOT crews to remotely adjust the light levels and turn individual light poles off when traffic levels are low. These adaptive features have the potential to decrease costs and provide environmental benefits while maintaining adequate lighting levels.

WSDOT expects the LED system to last 15 years and the technology with dimming controls will reduce energy usage to the 88 light poles by 1.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and save more than $75,000 in maintenance and operating costs, when compared to an HPS system.

“Over the next 22 months, we will look at how the lights function and analyze the cost savings at this location,” Nisbet said. “That information will help us build a plan for more LED lights across the state. We have close to 60,000 lights on the state highway system and more LEDs could translate into significant energy and cost savings.”

The light installations along US 101 should be complete by Friday, March 1 followed by full operation of the adaptive system by mid-April.

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