This article originally appeared on www.etownian.com written by HUNTLEY MCGOWAN
Seventeen traffic lights and 33 “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs in Elizabethtown were recently swapped out for energy efficient LED lights and sold on municibid.com. The traffic lights and signs were replaced as part of a regional traffic signal synchronization project with surrounding municipalities such as West Donegal and Mount Joy townships. The funding for the project was through a state/federal grant for transportation improvements. The project did not result in direct costs to the borough.
Cindy Foster, assistant borough manager for Etown, could not give an exact date regarding the length of time that the old lights and signs were functioning in town before they were in need of being replaced. As the traffic signals and signs were originally installed when the intersections were first given signals, it has been quite some time since any renovation or upgrade has taken place.
Township Administrator and Engineer for Mount Joy Steve Gault explained that the cost to upgrade the signal heads to LED was about $10,000, including labor and traffic control. This cost is typical for a four-way intersection that contains eight overhead vehicle traffic signal heads with three lights in each head (red, yellow, green) and two heads facing each direction of approaching traffic, and eight pedestrian signal heads controlling four crosswalks.
Gault explained that he compared the electricity usage for an intersection in Mount Joy that was also recently upgraded. His research showed that, prior to the upgrade to LED signals, the electricity costs averaged around $125 per month. After the conversion, the cost dropped to around $47 per month, a savings of approximately $78 each month.
Gault remarked that, in addition to the electricity savings, the LEDs also last longer, which means fewer service calls to replace burnt-out bulbs. Although there is an upfront cost for the conversion, Gault believes that the savings in electricity costs make it worthwhile. “Since the LEDs use less electricity, we were able to install a battery backup system to keep the traffic signals operational during power outages,” he said. “You may have noticed that during the snowstorm in late October, the traffic signals [in Mount Joy] remained operational although much of Elizabethtown was out of power.”
While these new traffic lights and signs provide a renewed ambiance in Etown, the old materials are required to be disposed of in an appropriate manner. After considering many options regarding the fate of the old supplies, Foster was referred to Municibid by Penn Bid, an online bidding service the borough uses for projects and contractors they are thinking about hiring.
The company’s website states: “Municibid is an online government auctions website designed specifically for the sale of surplus and forfeited/seized goods directly by the government.” All bidding on the site is open to the general public.
“We love working with government agencies to increase non-tax revenue by helping them market and sell items they no longer need for maximum dollar, at no cost to the agency,” said Grey Berry, CEO and founder of Municibid.
Since Municibid’s launch in 2007, the company has added 600 government agency sellers nationwide, ranging from cities as large as Philadelphia and Boston to small towns, counties, authorities and educational organizations. The company grew by 600 percent last year and they continue to add government agencies on a daily basis.
Berry’s interest in this field of work started when he was a borough councilman in Pottstown, Pa. “I saw the poor results of the sealed bid process most government agencies use to sell surplus and no longer needed items,” Berry said. “Few people knew this surplus was available for purchase and the process of facilitating bids was not competitive, leading to government agencies selling surplus for pennies on the dollar instead of a true market value.”
According to the Elizabethtown Borough Council meeting agenda, three separate people were awarded different lots of traffic signals. Robert Eakin of Tallmadge, Ohio received six “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs at 13.5 x 26.5 inches, two traffic lights with 12-inch lenses and turn lane arrows and five traffic lights with 12-inch lenses and turn lane arrows. In total, Eakin paid $139 for his new merchandise. He told Chad Umble, a correspondent for Lancaster Online, that he is planning on fixing and wiring up the lights to hang in his “man cave” and his friends’ garages as well. “It is just one of those things that when someone looks at it, they like it,” Eakin said.
Other recipients include Zee Mah of West Roxbury, Mass. and Ian Andersen of Levittown, Pa. Mah is now the recipient of 27 9.5 x 19.5 inch “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs after shelling out $61 Andersen received 10 traffic lights with 12-inch lenses for $125.50.
Overall, the Etown Borough was pleased with the service and results they received by using Municibid. “I will be using them again in the future,” Foster said.