Beverly Hills, Mich. — The record heat and series of storms that hit Southeast Michigan around the July 4 holiday, which left power out across large swaths of Oakland County, cost the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) approximately $60,000 as agency staff worked to run key traffic signals on generators, repair signals damaged by power surges or brownouts and provide stop signs at signals without power.
“I think the public is largely unaware that a tremendous amount of time and effort is required to keep key traffic signals functioning during widespread power outages,” observed RCOC Chairman Eric Wilson. “Doing that is not cheap, and is not part of our routine work, so the cost for doing that takes money away from other road maintenance activities.”
During and following the heat wave and storms, 127 traffic signals maintained by RCOC were without power, some for more than three days. An additional 75 signals reverted to flash mode as a result of power surges or “brown outs,” which required crews to repair the signals.
Of the 127 signals without power, RCOC provided generators at approximately 15 key intersections to keep those signals functioning in the interest of safety. Staff ran generators at various locations until July 9, when all power was restored. Often, RCOC requires that a staff person continually monitor the generators.
“We are in the midst of a road-funding crisis,” Wilson stated, “and we certainly could have used this $60,000 for other road maintenance work.”
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