Traffic Lights
February 23, 2012 8:47 PM   Subscribe

Why are traffic lights in New Jersey horizontal in many cities and vertical in the suburbs?

Camden, Elizabeth, Paterson. These and a few more cities in NJ have their lights on poles facing left-to-right, while suburban towns and smaller cities have lights top-to-bottom. There are exceptions such as Jersey City having vertical and Princeton having horizontal, but even if there's not a pattern here, what's the benefit of having lights horizontal vs. vertical?
posted by daninnj to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I forgot Newark on the list... The city that I always visited and made me wonder about this question.
posted by daninnj at 8:50 PM on February 23, 2012

Clearance for trucks?
posted by sourwookie at 9:01 PM on February 23, 2012

I'm not certain it would matter for New Jersey, but in places like West Texas the traffic lights are attached horizontally to metal poles to prevent the wind blowing them off of the wires.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:57 PM on February 23, 2012

You see this arrangement all over the country. It's probably a combination of clearance and stability.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:36 AM on February 24, 2012

Miami's lights are horizontal. I was just pondering with a friend Sunday whether we thought it was because of hurricanes or tradition. Hadn't pondered the clearance argument, but don't know why that would apply any more in one place than another.
posted by vsync at 9:18 AM on February 24, 2012

Sometimes the horizontal lights are strung on electrical wires that cross the span of the street. This is more doable obviously when streets are smaller, as they are in most cities.
In the suburbs where streets are usually wider and more spread out, it might not make sense to hang them that way.
posted by rmless at 9:22 AM on February 24, 2012

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