I was rollin’ in my hooptie, stock rims, diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean, and I hit an intersection. Looked up at the traffic light and I was quite taken, moved really, by how bright a clear the lights were. It was touching to realize that traffic lights is among the things that man has kept working on and improving. The optics in particular.

So I started wondering a bit more tangentially, Hmm, I wonder how much one of these lights go for. Probably at least four grand apiece. I figured I should google it, but something about it struck me as it proving to be a challenge to find the answer even on Google and sho’nuff I could not find out, after a solid twenty minutes of digging, about how much one of these puppies cost.

I finally found a company that sells these things among other things, flipped through the site and their PDFs, no prices. The closest I got in my hunt was their contact information to try to get a quote, but I threw in the towel as I thought it would be a bit rude to waste someone’s time fielding a solicitation, getting excited they might make a sale, just to satisfy someone’s fleeting curiosity.

But back to Google, go ahead, try it yourself, go on Google Products, use Google Goggles on your phone, hell get a ladder and see if you can find a barcode to scan,  you will not find a ballpark figure for one of these modern traffic lights and if you do you are a better googler than I.

Never thought the day would come where I couldn’t google something successfully after a solid twenty minutes or so. Maybe Bing? Nah…

Doug Simmons


  1. Man that is a lot of scratch! Low/mid hundreds of thousands and here I am thinking maybe four grand.

    Well, I concede defeat Nikhil, good work and thank you.

  2. Was on the County Planning Commission 10 years ago and the staff briefed us that a new lighted intersection was about $100k, in line with the Palmdale information. But that is “from scratch”, ie, light posts, light, cabling and the timing control box.

    They did discover, however, that the new LED type lights are waaaay brighter and stingier on power that their 1950s progenitors. However, since it rarely snows in the lowlands of Western Washington, our county folks were “surprised” to note that when it did snow, the LED traffic lights snowed over and were useless because the lights did not generate the heat the old ones did to melt the snow and keep it off the lens. So they refitted some with the old fashioned lid covers like the yellow ones you see on Doug’s picture.

    The county once again learned that there are three laws government never breaks:

    1. The law of gravity;
    2. The law of averages; and,
    3. The law of unintended consequences.

  3. Two additional and more pertinent points:

    1. Seeing the everyday and questioning its utility (or futility) is a basis for interesting journalism (e.g. Andy Rooney), how well you write about it makes for good journaliasm. The combination is great journalism. Now to apply that to WP or Nokia or…..

    2. Is there an app for that? Recall that stop lights, whatever their cost, are traffic control devices. And also recall that the important part of a traffic light is the control box not the light. And recall that local governments time the lights (or not) to maximize flow along arterials and major thoroughfares. That being the case, shouldn’t there should be an app or app appendage that can search the light control database for a given area and tell me not only the shortest distance to my destinatipon but the fastest (and no, those are not the same in an urban or suburban environment). Yes I know that most mapping apps can tap into heavy traffic, accident, road maintenance and detours databases. But in some suburban areas especially, the flow control on a major thoroughfare is set by traffic light timing and is, say, 33 mph to calm traffic, but the parallel side street lights are set at 38 mph to speed the flow. And the timing changes during the day to reflect go-home and go-to-work patterns of driving (with or without school busses etc). All that timing is known, why not there be an app to help me to get to the wedding on time?

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