Maine DOT plans costly statewide traffic signal upgrade

The large-scale project is expected to cost around $160 million over 20 years

December 27, 2018
traffic signal upgrades

The Maine Department of Transportation (Maine DOT) is crafting an expensive plan to replace the state's aging traffic signal network with an advanced, more efficient version.

According to a report from the Portland Press Herald, maintenance has been lacking on many of the 801 state-owned traffic signals. Almost half have structural components in such poor condition that are in need of complete replacement in the near future, state estimates show.

To solve the problem, Maine DOT is laying out a costly plan to replace every signal with the upgraded version that can be timed more efficiently, tell operators about malfunctions, and talk to vehicles with EV and AV capabilities as they roll out on U.S. roads. The department also plans to assume direct responsibility for signal upkeep statewide, an obligation usually held by cities and towns.

It will cost at least $8 million a year for the next two decades to replace the state’s aging traffic signal network. Overall, Maine wants to get on a replacement schedule for a 20-year signal life cycle. That means replacing about 40 signals a year at a cost of $200,000 per signal, roughly $160 million over 20 years. Next year, the department will replace 104 signals on thoroughfares in Sanford, Augusta, Waterville, Farmington and Belfast. About half of the $16.5 million project will be paid with a federal transportation grant.

When it comes to maintenance, Maine DOT currently takes care of only 51 traffic lights, or 6% of the total. The rest are left up to towns and cities that sometimes lack the budget or expertise to make sure the system is maintained. The department plans to take direct control over signals or offer stipends to towns and cities that show the financial and technical ability to keep the signals working. Maintaining the system could cost $2 million a year.

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Source: Portland Press-Herald

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