Nov 15, 2010 12:57 AM by Dr. Anya Winslow

Green signs power big buck savings for Colorado Springs

Solar energy helps power almost all Colorado Springs public schools flashing speed zone signs...and the savings are big.

Simply in the initial installation costs, the money saved approaches $1 million dollars.

"You don't have the boring, you don't have the excavation [both tasked needed to hook-up to a power source], and you don't have the delays [associated with major roadwork construction]," says City of Colorado Springs senior traffic engineer Justin Schaeffer.

These signs can be installed virtually anywhere. Installation takes about a week for these environmentally friendly signs, versus the several months that are needed for the older systems.

Advantages do not stop there. Maintenance cost savings are also expected.

"The solar panel's a green system that operates with a re-chargeable battery and takes less maintenance than the AC system," adds Schaeffer; and they can work for about eleven days without needing to re-charge.

The purpose of these signs, however, outshines the savings.

Schaeffer comments on results from a study published by the Safe Routes to School program, "Statistics have shown when you do drop the speed limit form 40 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour, your potential for serious injury accident goes from 85% to 5%."

Various factors dictate sign placement: traffic volume and speed; number of kids crossing; and road width and classification.

"If [the school] meet[s] our criteria, we'll work on budgeting them and installing them as we need them," reassures Schaeffer.

Funding for the signs comes from a variety of sources including: the general fund; PPRTA (Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority); and some older capital improvements programs pay for the projects.

Additionally, they are working on some Safe Routes to School grants; and funds are also received from speeding tickets issued in school zones.

Who's also using solar-paneled signs?  CDOT. 

CDOT confirmed that they are using these signs along major state-wide roadways, as well as in construction zones. CDOT reaffirmed the advantages that Schaeffer mentioned and added that the signs are particularly beneficial in rural areas where power sources are limited.


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