Million-dollar project improves fog lights on Afton Mountain

Staff Report

The Virginia Department of Transportation recently replaced the 841 lamps in the fog-light system on Interstate 64 on Afton Mountain. The incandescent lights originally installed in 1997 were replaced with LED lamps that will require less maintenance and use about 75 percent less energy.

The fog-light system helps to safely guide motorists during bad weather and low visibility, which is a frequent occurrence on Afton Mountain. The lights are installed along the edges of the roadway from milepost 98 in Augusta County to milepost 104 in Albemarle County. The system is designed for airports and is the only non-runway application of the lights in Virginia.

The fog lights have helped drivers negotiate Afton Mountain since 1976 when the first system was installed. That first system, which was manually controlled from a building at the summit of Afton Mountain, was overhauled and modernized in 1996; those lights have been in service until the recent replacement project. The fog-light system is now activated by VDOT’s Traffic Operations Center in Staunton, and the messages on several electronic-message signs along I-64 can be varied depending on the weather conditions on the mountain.

Repairs to the old lights had become difficult since some parts were no longer available, and maintenance was becoming more costly. Renovation of the fog-light system and installation of the new, energy-efficient LED lamps took 10 months and cost approximately $1.3 million.

The new LED lamps are expected to have a longer service life, which will lower maintenance costs and improve reliability.

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