I have noticed the gradual replacement of stoplights along N.C. Highway 344 since mid January and have wondered why they are being replaced. Granted, some of the intersections had lacked separate turn signals, especially at the Peartree Road, Roanoke Avenue/Body Road, and River Road/Pitts Chapel Road junctions. So I am thankful for the upgrades. However, the remaining intersections at Halstead Boulevard and Ehringhaus Street, the Lowe’s entrance off Halstead Boulevard and at Halstead Boulevard and Walker Avenue already had signals with a dedicated turn lane, making their replacement redundant as well as raising other points of contention.
First, neither of the new stoplights are connected to the existing sensor lines beneath the pavement. In effect, this leads to a transition from a sensor system to a timer, which cannot monitor traffic flow in real-time. As a result, whereas the light previously would change according to the presence or absence of waiting traffic, cars are now left to idle longer both on the main road (Halstead Boulevard) as well as on the side thoroughfares. This not only leads to a waste of time as drivers wait for the light, but produces small but cumulative drains on consumers’ wallets, as idling cars waste gas.
The second concern is a waste of energy, in that the old traffic signals, relatively new themselves, utilized light-emitting diodes as a lighting source. The replacement signals have reverted to conventional incandescent bulbs and are a greater expenditure for the agency that controls them, in this case probably the state, as it is a state highway. LEDs use far less electricity than incandescent bulbs and are brighter and more vivid as well, making them more visible to motorists, increasing overall safety.
Thirdly, the traffic signals with existing turn arrows did not have to be replaced. Why waste money on devices that still serve their purpose?
These stoplights are just another outstanding example of your tax dollars at work!
ANDREW SAN JUAN