Coupeville intersection gets backup power

Several improvements in Coupeville could benefit residents during stormy weather.

The Washington State Department of Transportation just finished installing a backup battery power source for the stoplights at the intersection of Highway 20 and Main Street.

That will provide approximately five hours of power to the intersection during outages. In addition, workers will install a switch that will allow the town to hook a generator up to the lights in the event of an extended outage.

Mayor Nancy Conard said the intersection with Main Street and the highway is critical to keep lighted because the highway bisects the town.

That intersection caused problems during the lengthy power outages last winter. In November 2006, a motorist sped through the intersection during a power outage and collided with a car full of children. Then, later in the winter, police officers found that motorists often didn’t realize they were supposed to stop at the darkened intersection.

That situation prompted the Coupeville Marshal’s Office to put together a makeshift stoplight that was wheeled out to the intersection during outages. The temporary stoplight, dubbed “Frankencop” by some, was made of a generator, a four-way stoplight and the town’s radar trailer.

Conard said the town doesn’t like putting the contraption in the middle of the intersection because of the danger it could pose if someone hit it.

The signal backup cost the Department of Transportation approximately $5,000. Dave Chesson, spokesman for the DOT, said staff is working on criteria to identify other intersections in the region that could benefit from the backup power system. However, like other safety projects, it has to compete with the needs of other locations for funds.

In addition to the backup power system, the town increased its ability to plow roads in the event of snow.

The town of Coupeville recently came to an agreement with Whidbey General Hospital for plowing services. The town agreed to plow the hospital’s parking lot while the hospital agreed to pay the town $5,000 for a plough attachment for one of the town’s trucks. The deal gives the town two snow ploughs to clear town roads and the hospital parking lot.

Conard said the agreement allows the town to provide better service to the residents while meeting the needs of the hospital.

The Coupeville Town Council approved the agreement with Whidbey General Hospital during its Tuesday evening meeting last week.

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