City of Tampa testing solar sidewalk to power traffic intersection

Tampa leaders are increasing their efforts to create a resilient and sustainable community.

The city is currently testing out a solar sidewalk at Cass Street and Jefferson Street near Perry Harvey Sr. Park. The sidewalk is made of solar panels that absorb power from the sun and converts it into electricity to power the traffic lights.

"So as far as we know, this is the first intersection in the country that has a dedicated solar array powering the intersection," Brandon Campbell, the Smart Mobility manager, said.

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Crews installed the first panels in the summer of 2020. The city started thinking about a plan after Hurricane Irma when a lot of traffic signals went out during the aftermath of the storm.

"We had a lot of dark traffic signals that we were out, and we were out deploying generators to get the backup power up and going on a temporary basis." Campbell said. "We have a lot of intersections around the city where we have battery backup units that power an intersection for around 8 hours."

The panels can power the traffic lights for several days. Right now, they’re producing about 75% of the power needed for the intersection.

"We're hoping to get it to where it generates 100% of our power needs for the intersection," Campbell said. "At this point, we would anticipate it could keep power going for a multiday outage."

City crews installed the panels. The panels and equipment cost about $45,000.