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Solar lights built into pavement on U.S. 160 at Towaoc

Travelers making their way along U.S. Highway 160 south of Cortez will find they are guided by a section of illuminated roadway near the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. The Colorado Department of Transportation is using solar technology to enhance night driving for travelers.

“More than 200 solar LED lights were installed and embedded into the pavement of U.S. 160 earlier this summer,” said Rick Routh, CDOT Region 5 traffic & safety engineer.

The lights, used to delineate lanes after dark, enhance the nighttime visibility at three junctions, auxiliary lanes and merging lanes at the casino and Towaoc town entrance. The installed lighting will improve safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

“This stretch of highway can see up to 7,000 vehicles daily,” said Routh. “The public has already begun providing positive comments on the benefits of the improved delineation at night through this busy corridor.”

A steel disk houses the small energy-efficient LED bulb and a solar cell, which collects the sun’s energy during daylight hours. The light bulb illuminates at dusk. The disk is set into the roadway just below the surface of the pavement, which allows traffic and heavy equipment, such as snowplows, to drive over the device.

An initial inspection of the lighted area was recently completed by CDOT traffic and safety personnel. Meanwhile, CDOT maintenance crews will closely monitor the lighting for the next few months.

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