Route 100 gets darker as part of pilot project
If you drive regularly along Route 100 in Howard County, you might just notice the lighting along the road is a little dimmer than it used to be.
The State Highway Administration says it had cut back its overhead lighting on a 6-mile stretch of the road between Coca-Cola Drive near the Anne Arundel County line and the western terminus of the limited-access highway at U.S. 29. According to the agency, about 75 lights have been "deactivated" as part of a pilot project to evaluate whether the state will be able to cut the amount of power its uses to illuminate state roads without compromising safety.
For now, the light poles remain in place. But if the test is successful, the SHA may remove them and recycle them in other locations. The primary aim, said SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar, is to reduce energy consumption as a "green" initiative. But he said any cutback in energy use could also yield savings in operating costs.
Another important consideration, Gischlar said, is safety. If the state can reduce the lighting, he said, it can also cut the number of poles that vehicles can run into.
"It's fewer fixed objects on the side of the road," he said.
Gischlar said that if the results from the year-long test are favorable, the state could look at reducing lighting on other highways. He said Route 100 wash chosen largely because it is a relatively new road -- opened in the late 1990s -- where the lighting exceeds federal requirements.
Gischlar said the SHA is keeping its lighting at past levels at certain "decision points" -- near interchanges, bridge and curves -- but cutting back in other places. He said SHA engineers are confident they can reduce lighting without any negative impact on safety because modern headlights are much more advanced than the "glorified flashlights" on cars when federal lighting standards were originally set. In addition, he said, the reflective quality of road signs and other markings has improved in recent decades.
So what do you think? Did you even notice the reduction? Do you feel any more or any less safe? Do you prefer a really bright highway at night or would you prefer some glare reduction? Please share your thoughts.