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New traffic signal features in Hailey should keep stoplights shining bright

Posted at 7:00 PM, Nov 06, 2023

HAILEY, Idaho — Folks in the Wood River Valley are ready for snow. Temperatures over the weekend were warm and precipitation came down as rain. But when colder air moves in, the seasonal switch

Dave Knoop at the Elephant’s Perch in Ketchum said the locals know what to expect, and keep their vehicles ready for winter. But with an increasing population, every year there are many people who find out what it’s like to drive in snow for the first time the hard way.

“In terms of driving in snow, for anybody that’s a local, we know better,” Knoop told Idaho News 6. “You have proper tires, you have all weel drive, 4-wheel drive, snow tires, or all of the above.. So you're really looking out for the other driver, and watching their driving behavior.”

When it dumps down snow, roads can become a mess. And when the winds accompany snowfall, traffic signals frequently get obscured as snow gets packed against the light.

Nick Wallace is a Signals Electrician with Idaho Transportation Department. When traffic signals in the Wood River Valley get so jammed up with snow that people can’t tell if they are green or red, he gets a phone call.

“Every winter we get snow packing in to our colors here,” Wallace told Idaho News 6. “They blow in and we have to travel at least an hour just to get up to valley, and we have to get in the middle of the intersection with our bucket ruck and wipe snow of the signals.”

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After last year’s epic season of snowstorms, Wallace started looking around to find a solution to the problem of signals being packed in with snow.

He finally got in touch with a transportation department in Buffalo, New York, that has started using a device that attaches to traffic signals that helps prevent snow accumulation.

The device, made by Snow-Proof signals, LLC, features a clear cone and spaces on the signal shield to allow wind to blow through, removing any snow along with it.

So far, Wallace and Signals Electrician Byron Posey have outfitted all red and yellow lights at high-speed intersections of State Highway 75 from Bellevue through Ketchum with the device. No devices have been installed within the towns, but if they perform as well as ITD hopes, the cones could be fitted to traffic signalss across ITD’s District 4, which includes Blaine, Twin Falls, Cassia, Lincoln, Minidoka, Gooding and Camas counties.

“I just hope the this works,” Wallace said. “It’s going to be a time saver, it’s going to be a money saver. And biggest thing is safety. You can’t put a dollar amount on safety.”