CLIFTON PARK — The town is taking steps to guarantee traffic lights — particularly at busy intersections — can keep working during power outages.
At its Monday meeting, the Town Board unanimously approved the purchase of 10 portable generators and a like number of electrical switching devices that will be attached to traffic lights at busy intersections throughout town.
The switches allow the traffic signals to be safely disconnected from the power grid in the event of an outage. Doing so allows them to be temporarily connected to the portable generators, which would be rolled out in emergencies to restore order to busy intersections.
There are 26 traffic lights wired with the switches townwide now, and the board typically approves the purchase of up to a dozen new switches each year, said town spokesman Matt Andrus.
The town will spend up to $7,200 to purchase the switches from CDE Electric Inc., based out of Cairo, New York. The generators will cost $8,450 and will be purchased from Sportline Power Products in Queensbury.
The concept of portable generators was brought to Clifton Park in the early 2000s, when a bad storm knocked out power throughout the town, leaving signal lights dark, said Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett in October.
“I remember approaching the traffic light at Route 146 and Clifton Country Road in the aftermath of the summer storm and witnessing the problems created by the inoperable traffic lights. It was a situation that needed to be addressed,” Barrett said.
The town partnered with the state Department of Transportation to rewire several traffic lights on state roads within the town.
The generators were used as recently as October in Clifton Park, when a power outage left more than 7,000 National Grid customers without power.
Town security officers are responsible for delivering the generators to affected intersections. Depending on how bad the outage is, the generators can be in place for hours or days, and the town’s security officers are also responsible for maintaining the generators during lengthier deployments.