November 07, 2013 9:00AM
What started as a pilot project in a southeast Kansas community could lead to national attention for Pittsburg State University and its College of Technology.
Two Pitt State construction faculty members, Seth O’Brien and Chad Crain, are helping the Kansas Department of Transportation install solar powered LED pavement lights at two interchanges in Chanute. The project is thought to be the first of its kind in the nation. The project is gradually gaining attention in Kansas, but O’Brien said that audience could quickly grow.
“The national Department of Transportation is now looking at this, and we may very well be asked to present and discuss this project at a national level,” O’Brien said. “We’re pretty sure nothing like this has ever been done in the U.S., and the idea could take off if it’s as successful as we think it will be.”
According to KDOT, the LED lights are being installed at two interchanges that do not meet KDOT standards for tower lighting. O’Brien and Crain are helping KDOT develop the best ways to install the lights.
“They reached out to us because our faculty here has a real-world experience,” O’Brien said. “You can do all of the lab tests you want, but it’s nothing like getting out and really doing this. We have industry experience, and we’re excited to be a part of this project and help in any way we can.”
While the initial run of lights should be installed within the next week or two, O’Brien said final results of this pilot project won’t be determined for about a year.
“We’re trying different methods of installation, and the next year or so will show which are the most effective,” he said. “We’ll spend the next year monitoring the lights and conducting research. By the end of this, we should have a final product that could be used in communities nationwide.”