Washington will soon become one of the first states in the nation to test an innovative new safety tool—solar-powered road reflectors—as a way to help improve road visibility and reduce run-off-the-road crashes.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) maintenance crews will install the solar studs as part of a test project on a 2-mile stretch of State Rte. 530 between Arlington and Darrington. London-based Astucia will provide the solar studs at no cost for the test.
This test section of SR 530 has a history of run-off-the-road collisions. Depending on the results of the tests and available funding, WSDOT will consider investing in additional test areas on other roadway surfaces or situations.
The solar-powered road reflectors contain a light-emitting diode (LED) that will automatically light up when it is dark to provide 10 times greater visibility for drivers than the traditional retroreflective markers.
“We often hear from drivers who are concerned about visibility in rain and snow,” said Dave McCormick, assistant regional administrator for maintenance and operations. “We’re excited to test this cutting-edge technology to see whether it helps improve visibility and safety for drivers. If we get good results, we will look into using the reflectors on future safety projects.”
Crews will close all lanes of SR 530 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 20 and 21, between both entrances to Oso Loop Road to install the solar studs in the centerline of the highway. Local traffic will be allowed access while all other traffic will be detoured to Oso Loop Road.
WSDOT engineers will analyze the effectiveness and durability of the solar studs as compared to traditional raised pavement markers annually for the next five years.