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Reefmonkey

Redundant nonfunctional stoplights

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Posted (edited)

I've recently noticed around the city intersections where stoplights attached to rigid steel pylons arching over the street have been installed, but these are nonfunctional, and the lights are covered in burlap. Instead, a second set of stoplights has been strung up, suspended by wire, and that's the set that it actually functional. Often times the nonfunctional set is fairly new, and by that I mean several months to a year old, so not some obsolete setup where it would make sense that it no longer works.

 

It seems like its a waste of taxpayers' money to have two sets of hardware, one of which is apparently not even hooked up, just sitting at intersections like this, not to mention it's an eyesore, makes the intersection look cluttered. Anyone else notice this and/or know why it's so common?

 

 

To provide the clarification some people may need, the following picture is to illustrate the physical setup I am talking about only. This intersection has not been in this setup very long, I only used it as a visual aid because it happens to be right by where I live and so was convenient to snap a picture of.

Stoplight.jpg

Edited by Reefmonkey

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From what I can tell, this is standard practice when going from wire-hanging stop lights to the pole mounted ones.  And it will take a while to bring the new ones online, because they have to test everything and double check it before using it as the primary lights, because you don't want to find out the new lights aren't working from all the 911 calls of fatal accidents

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yup, the 'temporary' ones you reference are actually the ones that have been there forever and are being slowly replaced with the more permanent structures.

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The City of Houston hasn't installed a new, permanent span wire traffic light installation in over 10 years. They've been phasing them out in favor of mast arm installations. You may think the entire span wire installation is new because the signal heads are new, but many of those new signal heads are just replacements. The City started phasing out the old 8" signal heads about 20 years ago and started replacing them with 12" signal heads. A few years after that, they started replacing incandescent and neon signal bulbs with LEDs. The replacement of 8" signal heads and incandescent lights got further accelerated after Ike damaged lots of lights. While the signal heads may be new/new-ish on a span wire installation, the wires and poles may be close to 60 years old. 

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Actually though, I've seen intersections where all of the signal lighting was removed during reconstruction, and then the mast arm lighting was installed, and then a short time later they go back and restring wire span lighting, so while I appreciate all of your attempts at explanation, it's not always the case. Sometimes the wire span lighting doesn't even look like the same lights that were up before, or at least are a reconfiguration.I wonder why, if they are taking the time to do that, they don't just commission the mast arm lights. And I still wonder why at several intersections I regularly drive through, the mast arm installations have been up for over a year at least, but the new lights have not been put into commission yet.

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In College Station, where I grew up, the "lights on wires" were only used when there was construction that necessitated the change (often, but not always, when the road was widened, but sometimes for other construction). In many cases, the older gray metal mast arms were replaced with shiny black ones. But in Houston, the "lights on wires" is very common, especially in the Outer Loop/Inner Belt area (except for neighborhoods that have had investment to make a sense of place, and again, a lot of these are Inner Loop). Westheimer west of the Loop is like this, as well as Shepherd north of the Loop. The Chinatown area in Bellaire had this if I recall before the horrific construction began around 2012. CoH has been replacing these, especially as most of them are dated and usually have the "yield on green" mechanism (if they have a dedicated left signal at all).

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That photo is of N Kirkwood at Memorial which is being rebuilt. The masts are new, as the road is nearly complete now. Google street view shows the history quite well. 

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, skooljunkie said:

That photo is of N Kirkwood at Memorial which is being rebuilt. The masts are new, as the road is nearly complete now. Google street view shows the history quite well. 

 

I'm well aware of the history of that particular intersection, as I live right there and have been dealing with the construction for well over two years now. I merely picked it to be a visual aid of the kind of setup I am talking about because it's by where I live so it was very convenient to take a picture of it. It is not, however, the only intersection I have seen like this, nor is the duration it has been in that configuration the longest I have seen an intersection left like that by a long shot. There are some I drive through frequently that have been that way for over a year.

Edited by Reefmonkey

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What's the phrase? Rome wasn't built overnight? At least it's being reconstructed-- I can't say that for my neighborhood streets. Maybe the crew that put the masts up was able to squeeze their job in early and the crew that removes the old ones can't complete their job until all the roadwork is done? 

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I think it's "Rome wasn't built in a day." But still, Roman engineers were reknowned for their roadbuilding skill and the speed with which they could lay down good roads for the legions to march on. Oscar Renda Construction pretty much exemplifies the opposite of that, and the city has done a terrible job of managing its contractor.

 

The Memorial Drive reconstruction between Kirkwood and Eldridge has been a disaster. Oscar Renda has done a terrible job. I attended the most recent Superneighborhood meeting where all this was acknowledged by the city. They're far behind schedule and have repeatedly closed already completed and previously reopened sections. That section of Memorial just west of Kirkwood was one of the first sections supposedly finished, but then was shut down and reworked two more times. Even so, they can't seem to get things right - the Winter Oaks/Tully intersection was not supposed to be configured the way it is, and to "fix" it they had to install a light that routes people turning left through a small parking lot. They've also bottlenecked cross-streets. Ashford Forest northbound just south of Memorial was down to one lane for months in late 2017-early 2018, mostly just used as storage for construction equipment, and then reopened, only to be closed again for several weeks this late summer-fall. Both times it caused through traffic to cut through my neighborhood, resulting in people running stopsigns, speeding around loading/unloading school buses, etc., and nothing was done to stop it until people in my neighborhood mounted a phone campaign to harass the city council and police to post cops in the neighborhood to catch speeders, stopsign runners, etc.

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