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VDOT, Trane to replace lighting on Virginia roadways

Photo Credit: niroworld/Adobe Stock

Virginia roads will be safer, by being more well-lit, and it won’t cost as much.

This is the word today from an announcement by Gov. Ralph Northam, who touted a project involving VDOT and Trane to replace more than 9,600 highway lights with light-emitting diode (LED) products, improving roadway visibility and energy efficiency.

The lighting upgrade will reduce highway lights’ energy consumption by more than 50 percent and triple the expected lifetime from five years to 15 or more years.

Key improvements of the lighting modernization project include:

  • Consuming 11 million fewer kilowatt-hours per year following replacement—enough to power roughly 16,000 refrigerators for a year
  • Resulting in an estimated 8,800-ton reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Improving drivers’ ability to see objects at night, such as pedestrians, animals, and debris
  • Reducing crash risks as fewer light replacements mean fewer roadway work zones
  • Saving taxpayer dollars through energy efficiency and longer product life

The project is aligned with the clean energy goals the governor laid out in his 2018 Virginia Energy Plan and in Executive Order Forty-Three which he signed in September.

“This lighting modernization project will reduce energy use and increase road safety,” Northam said today. “It’s an important step forward as we work to make Virginia a leader in clean energy, and I commend VDOT and Trane on their work to improve our roadways, our communities, and our environment.”

The project is expected to result in savings for the Commonwealth starting on day one, with a cumulative net savings of $4.6 million by 2036. The savings stems from lower energy bills and reduced operations and maintenance costs for future light replacement. VDOT selected LED lights to optimize road user visibility and minimize environmental impacts.

“VDOT’s collaboration with industry, health policy experts, and other stakeholders has ensured that we are delivering the highest standard of lighting that also has a minimal impact on our environment,” Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said. “Virginia’s forward-thinking approach has made the Commonwealth a national model for safe and effective highway lighting.”

VDOT is funding the lighting upgrade project using the Virginia Energy Management Program’s energy performance contract option, which allows VDOT to finance infrastructure improvements using future energy and operational savings. VDOT partnered with Trane following a competitive procurement process.

“Trane has completed over $280 million in performance contracting, and successfully implemented projects for many Commonwealth of Virginia agencies,” said Larry Cummings, Marketing Leader and Strategic Partnerships at Trane. “We are proud to collaborate with VDOT to enhance the lighting levels on Virginia’s roads to improve safety and energy use.”

Light replacement will start in spring 2020. This project includes lights located on limited-access highways and associated interchanges, as well as VDOT-owned park-and-ride lots, rest areas, and weigh stations in the Richmond, Fredericksburg, Hampton Roads, and Northern Virginia districts.

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