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Snow-Covered Stoplights Remain a Challenge for County

The newer LED lights are the choice for highway planners, but the challenge remains to make sure snow doesn't stick to them

After the Dec. 20 snowfall, many of the traffic lights were left with snow packed to the lenses, which is an ongoing problem for the Waukesha County Highway Department.

It's also hazardous to motorists, and a few of you took the time to point that out to Muskego Patch.

Gary Evans, head engineer with the highway department, told us that they continue to work with various 'fixes' for the hundreds of such lights throughout the county, but "at this point we're not sure what the state of the art is" to create the perfect solution.

While he admitted the 'face' of the lights is cooler than their incandescent predecessors, he said it's false to thing they don't emit heat. 

"LED lights do generate heat, but the science places the heat toward the back of the light, keeping the lens cooler," he said. Crews have experimented with different lenses placed in front of the lights, but he said those don't really help.

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However, Evans said there really needs to be a 'perfect storm' of circumstances to create the problem in the first place. 

"With this last storm, the type of snow tends to freeze on contact and was much heavier, but it doesn't happen in every storm. In fact we saw at some intersections, it was only the north-facing lights that had that problem, and people may not realize that snow like that also causes problems with the older incandescents," he explained.

Generally, Evans said the goal is to clear the streets first, then get to the lights as soon as possible. When needed, Muskego Police are enlisted to clear lights, and only if they are not busy on calls.

For now the goal is to monitor the lights as much as they can, which depends on residents as well. Evans said that any concerns over lights that are covered should be directed toward the Highway Operations Division of the County's Department of Public Works,  (262) 548-7736. They are also on Twitter @WaukeshaCoDPW.

Paul Peardon January 03, 2013 at 01:29 PM
I was in an automobile accident last winter at Moorland and Beloit in New Berlin as a direct result of the lights being snow covered. Fortunately no one was injured. They issued my citation, took my money and quite frankly really did not care about the problem with the lights and of course my insurance has gone up.
Denise Konkol (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 02:45 PM
I think I would have taken pictures of the lights and shown that to the city attorney in municipal court. Of course, that's time spent... I think if it happens again, the immediate response would be to display the 4-way stop signs to avoid trouble.
Muskegotom January 03, 2013 at 04:00 PM
I was in an accident 4 years ago on 164 as a result of these lights. Two cars went throught the red light and totalled my car. Another example of our government not thinking past it's nose.

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