Florida man designs hurricane-resistant traffic signal hangers

| July 17, 2013

Bob Townsend, a Palm Beach County resident, created a hurricane-resistant traffic signal hanger that can withstand winds of up to 110 mph. The pivitol hangers are now standard on all new traffic signals in Florida. (Photo: Scott Fisher / Sun Sentinel)

Robert Townsend, a Palm Beach County resident, created a hurricane-resistant traffic signal hanger that can withstand winds of up to 110 mph. The pivitol hangers are now standard on all new traffic signals in Florida. (Photo: Scott Fisher / Sun Sentinel)

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is installing pivotal hangers at traffic signals throughout the state to protect the signals from hurricane damage, according to a report from the Sun Sentinel.

The hangers, designed by Florida native Robert Townsend, will be retrofitted onto existing traffic signals in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. FDOT will spend a total of $2.6 million adding the hangers to a combined 106 intersections in those counties. The hangers will also be standard in Florida on new traffic signals that do not require steel mast arms.

Townsend, a Palm Beach County home designer and master woodworker, said he began working on the design after experiencing traffic chaos brought on by many hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. When he discovered the county’s standard procedure of removing traffic signals as a storm precaution–due to the massive number of signals lost in previous storms–he decided to work on a solution.

“The whole goal is to have a controllable intersection after a storm,” Townsend said.

Townsend’s pivotal design came about after he realized the main problem originated with the aluminum and wire hangers and the black box connected to them. His solution was to create pivoting hangers for flexibility in high winds, and to reinforce the black box.

“It allows the signal to rotate, but it doesn’t allow bouncing,” Townsend said. “Bouncing is what destroys traffic signals.”

The new design allows traffic signals to withstand up to 110-mph winds.

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