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NEMA starts work on portable traffic signal specification


December 5, 2010
By Anthony Capkun

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) 3-TS Transportation Section has formed a technical committee that will plan and draft a new performance standard specification for portable traffic signal systems, like those used in work zones or for intersection control, and other temporary traffic control situations.

“The flourishing portable traffic signal industry lacks a standard specification that would ensure the use of quality portable signal systems on roadways across North America. The new NEMA TS 5 specification for temporary, portable traffic signal devices and applications will borrow from and build on NEMA TS 2 and NEMA TS 4. Through the collaboration of portable signal manufacturers and other product providers, this project will satisfy a growing need for an effective portable traffic signal specification,” said Scott Heydt of Horizon Signal Technologies, who chairs the Portable Traffic Signal Technical Committee (PTS TC).

Portable traffic signals use the latest technologies to further increase safety and efficiency in work zones. Bright LED signal indications allow for greater visibility than traditional flaggers, especially at night. Wireless radio communication allows the signals to remain synchronized and connected at all times for full conflict monitoring. Notification systems can even monitor the operation of the signals and report the status of the system to the appropriate individuals.

Some jobs require these signals for several months or even a period of years. As the use of portable signals has increased in recent years, several manufacturers became aware that a standards specification was needed, and joined NEMA to start the effort.

The most common applications are one-lane work zones in which traffic may flow only in one direction at any given time. Traditionally, flaggers are used in these scenarios; however, these devices increase safety in work zones by removing flaggers from the dangerous job of traffic control.

“The new specification will satisfy the urgent need for a clear and effective portable traffic signal specification through input from manufactures of electronic traffic controllers and other related product providers,” added Bryan Mulligan, president of Intelligent Devices Inc.

For more information, email john.miller@nema.org for John R. Miller.

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