A traffic light that fell onto a car Sunday afternoon on Two Notch Road was improperly installed and loosened by the wind, according to a state construction engineer.
Several bystanders took photos of the car stopped in the 7400 block of Two Notch Road. The traffic light had smashed through the windshield on the passenger's side of the vehicle.
The traffic light is maintained by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
Winds were gusting at or near 25 mph for part of the afternoon.
Jay Morgan didn't see the traffic signal fall, but from his business he's watched the crews working on the signals over the last year.
"There were lights already there, but I think they put up new lights when they put the cross walks in or maybe it was just they unhooked them to wire the cross walks to them, I'm not sure," Morgan said.
DOT District Construction Engineer Brian Jones confirmed the lights are new within the last year. Jones says it appears the signals were improperly installed and loosened in the high winds. In the next day they'll inspect all signals at Two Notch and Firelane Road.
"You mount this bracket to the span wire, tighten it down so it can't move side to side and then the signal is just mounted up underneath it," said David Brewer, a traffic engineer with the City of Columbia.
It was a private group contracted by DOT who installed the lights at Two Notch. The city does similar work at 280 city intersections. The lights can weigh up to 50 pounds.
"The display down below it, it's about three feet long, each one of the displays is about 12 inches in diameter so it's probably about four feet high," said Brewer. "Looks a lot bigger on the ground than it does up in the air.
There are no safety lines other than the wiring, which is also fastened to the steel cable.
"The electrical cables are not intended to hold the signal in the air," said Brewer. "It might catch it, if there was enough weight on it or if something hits it it's going to come off."
Not in this case.
We continue to ask the DOT questions about how something like this could happen. When we get those answers we'll let you know.
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