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Lighting study underway

First round of Bethlehem-based demonstrations completed

After being rained out several times, a state-backed lighting study centering on a Bethlehem roundabout finally got underway on Monday, June 27.

About two dozen members of the Department of Transportation, NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center and town officials gathered at the Route 140/New Scotland Avenue roundabout at about 9 p.m. and had a look at some new landscaping and crosswalk lighting measures that RPI researchers had set up.

One set of crosswalks was illuminated by bollards placed in the road that cast light onto the ground and pedestrians, said RPI researched John Bullough, and officials were invited to don hardhats and reflective vests to walk about the active circle to observe the elements from different angles. They also walked down the sidewalk to check things out from an approaching motorist's perspective, but no one in the study traveled the roundabout in a car.

They then filled out questionnaires about the elements.

The pedestrian lights were probably brighter than they needed to bewe want to make sure they're not too bright for the drivers approaching, said Bullough of the crosswalk lighting.

The landscaping lights, however, seemed to have a positive effect. Observers noted the lighting on the roundabout's interior circle made it stand out in the darkness, and figured it might make motorists take heed of the circle earlier.

Researchers set up eight different plant species in the circle and illuminated them in various ways. People were mostly noncommittal on the specie type but didn't really care for the switch grass, said Bullough. Though the effect on traffic is certainly an element of the study, the primary purpose is to seek out more energy efficient lighting methods than the big, overhead lights said the Department of Transportation's Mark Kennedy.

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