Just one set of traffic lights is needed to control one intersection. How much would you think that should cost?

On one hand, you’re talking something highly important. Electronics and poles, software engineering, etc... But on the other hand, once you’ve figured out how to do it, traffic lights are all relatively similar. It’s not like they’re starting from scratch every time an intersection needs traffic signals.

So what’s your guess? The wiring, the infrastructure, the labor to erect it. $80,000? $100,000?

Again, we’re talking about lights on a timer basically. Okay okay, yes it’s really important. They’ll need to be inspected. $150,000?

A story caught my eye out of Perth Amboy. A busy intersection at Goodwin and Smith recently had upgrades to make it safer for pedestrians. They replaced the traffic lights to include pedestrian signals. They also did some sidewalk work, put in ADA curb ramps for wheelchairs, and repainted crosswalks.

The total price tag for that?


Explanation / Shocked / Surprised

I was floored. Was this normal? Or was this some overpaid contract? I tried putting away my native New Jerseyan cynicism and did some brief research.

And yup. It’s normal. Around the country installing a traffic light at an intersection runs roughly between $200,000 to $500,000.

Naturally, things in the northeast are going to cost more than in, say, Idaho. You throw in a little extra like ramps and repainting sidewalks, etc., then $627,000 isn’t as outrageous as my indignation needed it to be.

N Rotteveel
N Rotteveel

And I may never look at a traffic light the same way again.

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