Thursday, April 29, 2010

NCDOT goes green with solar-powered crossing

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The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Rail Division is going green with the installation of the state's first solar-powered railroad crossing signal lights and gate warning system. The new system was recently activated in the Stokes County town of Pinnacle on Surry Line Road.

"This is an outstanding opportunity to use renewable, healthy and clean energy," said NCDOT Rail Division Director Pat Simmons. "While the crossing will operate as effectively as any other to help keep motorists safe, we can take pride in knowing that it's also energy efficient."

Beyond the use of the solar panels to charge the batteries and operate a couple of low-draw electric items, such as an interior light, vent fan, etc., the crossing signals and gates will operate like any other crossing automatic warning system connected to the power grid. It also looks like any other signal and gate crossing warning system except for the mast-mounted solar panels atop the crossing signal's control panel.

C&S Signaling of Pewee Valley, Ky., designed and installed the system. The Rail Division has plans for at least one other solar panel signal and gate crossing and will continue to encourage the further use of this green technology.

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