In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and its destruction along the Eastern Seaboard a Republican New Jersey Assemblywoman from Monmouth County, Amy Handlin, has called on FEMA to fund solar-powered stop signals in the region. She was joined by a number of mayors in Monmouth County.
Across the region where Sandy had contact, from the Carolinas to New Jersey and New York, the electric grid felt—and continues to feel—the impact. But when the hurricane was at its worst, solar could have been at its best. At least if stoplights were solar-powered. Because stoplights are powered by the grid, and often don’t have battery backups, when the grid went out, so did the stoplights. The stoplights that would have made it easier for people evacuate but didn’t operate because the grid lost power. While New Jersey hasn't adopted such solar-powered traffic signals on a wide scale, it has installed PV modules on utility poles in parts of the state. So it shouldn't to foreign a concept for the state to get used to.
“This is an investment in public safety,” said Handlin. “Solar-powered traffic lights would continue to operate in outages to keep traffic moving and allow police officers to respond to people who need help, instead of directing traffic for days and days,” she said.
Handlin added that the federal government should have a role in assuring that such stoplights are installed. “Funding solar-powered traffic signals should be a priority for FEMA to reduce the significant and repetitive loss our communities have experienced after devastating storms,” she said in a release.“We need to replace several traffic lights after Hurricane Sandy, and we might as well rebuild our infrastructure better than before, with bipartisan solutions like this.”
In the letter to FEMA, Handlin made the plea as both a safety and cost-effective solution. “Motorists, already under great stress, had to endure the inconvenience of severely compromised and delayed travel. Indeed, a trip that would normally take 15 minutes could easily stretch to close to 2 hours,” she wrote. “Our hope is that FEMA can see that its funding of solar powered signals could also mitigate the significant repetitive loss we have experienced due to the cost of this additional manpower. Taking the cost savings into consideration, funding solar traffic signals should be a focus for FEMA throughout this region and our state.”
The letter to FEMA was co-signed by mayors throughout her legislative district. Among them: Monmouth County, including: David Tinker, Hazlet; Frank Nolan, Highlands; Patrick Impreveduto, Holmdel; Jon Hornik, Marlboro; Anthony Fiore, Middletown; Michael Mahon, Oceanport; and Paul Smith, Union Beach.