Damaged traffic lights in Florida may take over a year to replace, officials say
APOPKA, Fla. - You may have seen videos before of traffic lights shaking wildly from the wind during storms.
The Florida Department of Transportation changed its regulations a while back to mandate sturdier masts to prevent that from happening, but they turn out to be a real hassle to replace these days.
That’s why people online have been asking about why the temporary light at State Road 414 East and Keene Road hasn’t been replaced yet with a permanent one.
FOX 35 News reached out to the Central Florida Expressway Authority, as well as the planning departments with Orange County and the City of Apopka. We learned that a temporary light on Keene Rd. was installed after the recent hurricanes damaged the old traffic light.
"We can wheel these out in replacement of a damaged or disabled intersection and have things back up and running without needing to be flaggers or police officers in harm’s way," explained Scott Heydt, sales director for Marketing for Horizon Signal, a company that makes portable traffic lights.
They are called "portable" or "temporary" lights, though those terms are relative. Right now, traffic lights can take over a year to replace, officials said.
Travelers with whom we spoke, such as Mark Davideit, were astonished when we told them that timeline. "That seems like an awful long time," Davideit told FOX 35. "I don’t understand it. Doesn’t make a lot of sense. They should be able to find it somewhere."
The City of Apopka’s Planning and Zoning Division explained hat there are only three companies in the entire country that make the new lights. Because demand so heavily outpaces supply, they are on a back-order of up to 18 months.
The good news, accordant to Heydt, is that the portable lights will still operate even if another storm knocks out the power. "They are battery powered and solar charged, so they don’t need to be connected to the power grid at all, so they’re almost completely self-sufficient."
The Central Florida Expressway said it will take a couple more months to rebuild the traffic light’s base and install a new permanent signal on Keene Rd.