Monday, 24 October 2011

Big bills for new traffic lights

Herald Sun
18 Oct 2011, Page: 11

COUNCILS are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade traffic lights with energy-efficient globes. Bayside ratepayers are being slugged $195,000 to modernise nine sets of traffic lights by fitting them with light-emitting diode globes. Stonnington Council will spend $70,000 under a VicRoads program to replace incandescent globe traffic signals with LED ones. Whitehorse is also supporting the program, while Port Phillip and Yarra would be interested in taking part.

LED systems are considered more energy efficient and cheaper to maintain than existing incandescent bulb technology, which is being phased out by the Federal Government. But the Federal Government said traffic lights were exempt and it was up to councils to decide whether to upgrade or not. However, Melissa Evans, spokeswoman for federal Climate Change and Energy Efficiency parliamentary secretary Mark Dreyfus, said changing to LED globes would save ratepayers money over time.

The nine sets of signals around New, Bay, Church and Martin streets in Brighton are owned by Bayside Council and maintained by VicRoads at an annual cost of $80,000 to ratepayers. Mayor Alex del Porto defended the "significant" cost of $195,000 to replace the lights. "It is a cost we have to bear", he said. VicRoads regional director metro southeast Duncan Elliot said the organisation had a contract to upgrade globes on about 800 traffic signal sites on state roads. He said LED traffic signals provided much better signal visibility and had a service life of more than 10 years.