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A bright idea creates better highway message boards at a reduced cost

LED retrofit kit developed by ADOT employees extends life of message signs
July 03, 2017

PHOENIX ‒ A bright idea by Arizona Department of Transportation employees delivers clearer messages on overhead electronic signs along state highways, while saving taxpayer dollars.

As part of ADOT’s commitment to continuous improvement, employees developed a retrofit kit to replace old halogen light bulbs with state-of-the-art LED lighting for message signs that provide drivers with information about highway conditions, incidents and travel times. Such an improvement, referred to in continuous improvement as kaizen, reduces waste, improves safety or, in the case of this employee-driven idea, accomplishes both.

“The LED system is a brighter, clearer light, so it’s easier to see the signs and read the messages,” said Chuck Hill, ADOT traffic signals and lighting supervisor.

DMSsignBRather than replacing an older message board when the need arises, at a cost of $300,000, ADOT crews replace the original halogen bulbs and mechanical shutters that had been used to create messages. The cost for a retrofit is significantly lower, at about $42,000 per message board.

The retrofit kit, in use since 2014, also replaces wiring and upgrades the message board’s control box.

Each upgrade replaces 20-year-old technology that requires monthly maintenance. In addition, the maker of the existing boards has gone out of business, so no replacement parts are available.

The LED system uses 60 percent less energy, resulting in an annual savings of about $1,000 per sign.

DMSsignAForty-five message boards in the Phoenix area have been retrofitted since 2014, and many other signs around the state have received or will receive the upgrade.

As ADOT retrofits message boards, drivers get clearer messages delivered by more reliable signs.

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Civil Rights

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other nondiscrimination laws and authorities, ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Persons that require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact ADOT’s Civil Rights Office at Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

De acuerdo con el Título VI de la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964, la Ley de Estadounidenses con Discapacidades (ADA por sus siglas en inglés) y otras normas y leyes antidiscriminatorias, el Departamento de Transporte de Arizona (ADOT) no discrimina por motivos de raza, color, origen nacional, sexo, edad o discapacidad. Las personas que requieran asistencia (dentro de lo razonable) ya sea por el idioma o discapacidad deben ponerse en contacto con la Oficina de Derechos Civiles de ADOT en Las solicitudes deben hacerse lo más antes posible para asegurar que el Estado tenga la oportunidad de hacer los arreglos necesarios.