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Traffic poles continue color change in cost-cutting effort

Answer Man revisits question about Rochester's move toward black poles to support traffic lights.

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The traffic signals at the intersection of Civic Center Drive and Fourth Avenue Northwest are painted black. The city hopes to save money by using a universal color on new poles. (file photo)

I’m wondering why poles for street lamps and stop lights are being repainted black instead of yellow. -- Color curious

As I said in a spectacular column in 2018, the color change is a cost-saving move by the city.

RELATED: Answer Man: Will traffic pole painters paint the town black?

If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll notice a variety of pole colors throughout the city, but more and more are turning black, primarily in the Destination Medical Center district.

According to Sam Budzyna, traffic and parking manager with the Rochester Public Works Department, the city has 38 black traffic signals, with 35 painted in recent years and three that were installed with the new color.

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“We have about 80 other traffic signals that are painted yellow/green, brown, gray, or charcoal gray,” he said. “That puts us on pace to have them all painted black within another 10 years.”

The yellow and green combination -- see the intersection of 11th Avenue and Fourth Street Southeast for an example -- was the city’s original plan for traffic lights, but brown later became the color for a new downtown aesthetic.

Then, charcoal gray became the norm, but the desired brown and grey shades required the city to order custom poles, and city staff eventually opted for a standard color that cut costs and provided uniformity.

That color was black.

The poles at the intersection of Civic Center Drive Northwest and Fourth Avenue Northwest became the first to change to black in the cost-saving effort.

As I noted in 2018, the city is replacing poles with ones made of galvanized material, which won’t require repainting every 12 to 15 years.

Budzyna said that work continues.

Send questions for the Answer Man to answerman@postbulletin.com .

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