City rebidding for traffic signal controller units at five intersections

The traffic controller unit at 36th and Maine is one of five that needs to be replaced at intersections throughout the city, according to City Engineer Jeff Steinkamp. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Dec. 13, 2011 8:27 am Updated: Dec. 27, 2011 9:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A project to replace traffic controller units at five intersections within the city that was previously rejected by the City Council as too costly is now being rebid.

City Engineer Jeff Steinkamp said the bid was advertised starting this week. "We're going to adjust our engineer's estimate, because now we have more data," he said.

The council rejected the original bid of $126,681 to replace units at five intersections, well above the original estimate of $88,302.

When asked what the updated engineer's estimate was, Steinkamp said the city does not release the engineer's estimate until after bids are returned.

Steinkamp said the units the city hopes to replace are outdated.

"We know that 14 of them have a certain brand or older style controller that is no longer manufactured, no spare parts (and) there's no technical support," he said. "That's our biggest concern. It's outdated equipment that when we have failures to the controller units, then we have to scramble and scrape up parts or patch one thing for the other."

If the units break down, they can be non-functional as the city waits for parts.

"You'll see at times 12th and State, Fifth and Hampshire, Sixth and Hampshire, they go on ‘red flash,' and they had to leave them on for a couple of weeks to get some parts in or to try and beg for some parts from other municipalities or find some way to fix these things up," Steinkamp said.

He hopes to replace 14 of the 58 traffic controller units within the current budget year.

"This is just aging infrastructure, and it just needs to be refurbished and replaced," Steinkamp said.

Steinkamp said the remaining 44 intersections' units were operating fine, with 14 or 15 models not requiring replacement for a few more years.

In October, the council agreed to spend $100,400 in motor fuel tax funds to buy 16 traffic detection cameras from the Illinois Joint Purchasing Program for four intersections. The state is supposed to reimburse the city $62,759 for the new cameras that will go on state roads.

The city spends around $400,000 annually in utility costs for traffic signals and street lights, but in recent years, the city has dropped the costs by replacing the switching to light-emitting diodes instead of a regular incandescent light bulb.

"We've cut our electrical costs just for intersections by about 90 percent," Steinkamp said, adding about 10 percent of the utility costs come from the traffic signals.