Questions remain about new lights on I-595

Q: When will the new lights be turned on for Interstate 595? All at once or in segments?

Martin Steinberg, Davie

A: I-595 Express, the concessionaire that will maintain and operate the highway until 2044, would like to turn the lights on all at once when construction is finished early next year.

But officials say there is ongoing discussion about turning them on sooner or when the Florida Power & Light accounts are activated.

There will be more than 900 conventional street-level lights; 45 high-mast poles, mostly near the turnpike and S.R. 7; more than 100 "underdeck" lights to illuminate streets that pass under I-595; and 19 navigational lights where bridges or ramps cross the North New River Canal.

As of last Monday, 180 poles and 6 high-mast lights still had to go up.

Drivers have long complained about the darkened stretches, where the only light comes from headlights or businesses along S.R. 84. When I-595 was built more than 20 years ago, lighting wasn't part of the landscape, and most of the corridor west of Florida's Turnpike remains dark at night.

About $13 million is being spent on lighting, which includes underground wiring and electrical boxes in addition to the light poles. An estimated $6 million will be spent to pay the electric bill and maintain the equipment for 35 years.

Q: The signal at South Andrews Avenue and 17th Street has a green left turn arrow only for southbound Andrews to eastbound 17th Street. Why don't the other three directions also have left turn arrows?

Allan Chinn, Fort Lauderdale

A: The Florida Department of Transportation collected data in December 2012 and found rush-hour traffic during the tourist season on northbound Andrews fell just below the threshold for a left-turn arrow, said Ed Davis, Broward County's assistant traffic engineering director.

The county plans to conduct a new traffic study in February to see if the other directions warrant turn arrows.

"We are reviewing the current signal timing plans to ensure the optimal balance is provided for all movements based on current traffic volumes," Davis said.

Q: A recent story mentioned that SunPass is swapping out older portable transponders with newer models that will work on toll roads outside Florida. Will this also include bridges and tunnels in the Northeast?

Pete Dloss, Lake Worth

A: Yes, it's in the works but no agreements or timetable have been announced.

Congress mandated that by Oct. 1, 2016, the nation's toll road systems must accept each other's transponders.

So far, SunPass can be used only outside Florida in North Carolina. Georgia's Peach Pass, which works on toll roads in Atlanta, will also become compatible.

The major sticking points over the years have centered on differing technology, billing, reimbursement between states, and how to deal with drivers who try to cheat the system.

mturnbell@tribune.com, 954-356-4155, Twitter @MikeTurnpike

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