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Brookhaven to upgrade traffic signals

Brookhaven will upgrade traffic signals in the town to a GPS-linked system that will help emergency vehicles navigate congested roads.

The town board approved the use of a $1.8-million Federal Highway Administration grant to pay for the new Opticom Signal Preemption System at a meeting Wednesday.

All 480 traffic lights in the town will receive the system upgrade, the town said. The GPS devices will be installed atop the traffic signals in white plastic bubbles.

The new system can use GPS satellite triangulation to pre-empt traffic signals in the path of a responding emergency vehicle, the town said in a news release.

The emergency vehicle will send signals to nearby traffic lights about the vehicle’s speed and direction. The system can even detect when turn signals are activated and change the traffic signals in the appropriate direction.

The technology “will greatly improve the response time for emergency vehicles and certainly help save lives,” Supervisor Mark Lesko said in a news release.

The current system is about 12 years old and relies on infrared sight, which gave emergency vehicles less time to modify upcoming traffic signals.

“For first responders, a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death for those they are trying to assist,” said Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), who helped secure the funding.

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