Solar Lighting on US 160 at Towaoc Junction Benefits Travelers

August 31, 2016 - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - MONTEZUMA COUNTY – Travelers making their way along US Highway 160 (US 160) south of Cortez will find they are guided by a section of illuminated roadway near the Ute Mountain Ute (UMU) Reservation.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is using solar technology to enhance night driving for travelers.

“More than 200 solar LED lights were installed and embedded into the pavement of US 160 earlier this summer,” said Rick Routh, CDOT Region 5 Traffic & Safety Engineer.

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

“This stretch of highway can see up to 7000 vehicles daily,” added 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 automatically 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 right 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. Routh added that CDOT officials are optimistic that the enhancement to this section of highway will prove beneficial to the traveling public – in vehicles, on bikes, or on foot.