Ripped out traffic light damage lambasted

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 09:01 07/12/2013
damaged traffic lights control box
SUPPLIED/ Alan Shaw
TORN OUT AND DROWNED: A traffic light control box was ripped from its foundations on Factory Rd, near Temuka, and dumped in the Orari River. It took a crane to recover the box and will cost an estimated $20,000 to get the lights going again on the one-way-bridge.

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The traffic light system damaged in an act of vandalism near Temuka this week was a "stupid" design poorly thought out, a disgruntled farmer says.

Former Federated Farmers transport committee chairman Jeremy Talbot made the comment after a traffic light control box on Factory Rd was ripped from its foundation and dumped in the Orari River.

"We don't condone vandalism, but ever since those lights went in we've complained about the action and design of the whole system."

He said only a large vehicle built of steel was capable of tripping the magnetic induction coils under the road. Lighter and smaller vehicles had to wait longer for the lights to change, he said.

"It doesn't work with motorbikes, bicycles or livestock. There's a whole host of things it doesn't work with."

However, Timaru District Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon said the coils were the same as those used in other parts of South Canterbury, which had never been a problem.

Mr Talbot said engineers had tried to improve the system following numerous complaints.

"People are just fed up with it. I can understand the frustration."

He recalls at least one occasion when the lights proved a major problem.

"Years ago we were doing silage out that way. It cost the farmer another four hours at $1200 an hour because of the cost of stopping at that bridge."

Mr Talbot believes an infrared motion sensor was a more logical option. "It works with anything that moves," he said.

He wants the council to reconsider its options.

"It doesn't work well," he said. "People just drive through when they can see - and that's even worse.

"I now invite the council to stop spending any more money on that stupid system and put in the infrared system so it works with all road users."

However, Mr Dixon said the in-frared option had already been considered.

"We've looked at infrared, but they are not as reliable - anything can trigger it such as a rabbit running along the road ... everything is picked up and that can cause problems."

Mr Dixon said the council had been offered a second hand controller from Auckland Transport, Wellington City Council and a supplier.

"We've had three offers, which is going to save a lot of money," Mr Dixon said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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