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Troy, NY -  8/29/2005

Lighting Research Center Awarded Contract to Redefine National Roadway Lighting Guidelines

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been awarded a contract from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), a division of the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board (TRB), to redefine national roadway lighting guidelines. The three-year, $800,000 project is designed to improve the operational efficiency of roadway lighting and reduce automobile crashes.

"The LRC will perform crash analyses and lighting studies through site evaluations and computer modeling for a wide range of conditions and roadway classifications," said John Van Derlofske, Ph.D., head of transportation lighting at the LRC and principal investigator on the project. "The research will be used to develop tools to help roadway lighting specifiers nationwide determine when and where street lighting should be installed."

According to Mark Rea, Ph.D., director of the LRC and co-principal investigator on the project, the research will ultimately result in more efficient roadway illumination systems designed to increase safety and benefit all roadway users—motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

As part of the project, LRC researchers will produce user-friendly guidelines for roadway lighting and a calculation tool to help determine what type of roadway lighting, if any, is required. The calculation tool is intended to be an algorithm that weights safety, cost, and other impacts of lighting such as light pollution, economic development, and security. The calculation tool will factor in details such as road geometry, traffic characteristics, number of pedestrians, glare, and interactions between headlamps and streetlights.

"The anticipated findings from this research will pay dividends in the end to state and local governments interested in providing roadway lighting," said Stephen C. Brich, director of operations management for the Virginia Department of Transportation and panel chair for the NCHRP project. "The new guidelines will have state-of-the-art research findings from around the world to aid in determining when and where to use roadway lighting to increase safety while balancing the expenditure of limited resources."

The LRC has partnered with researchers from the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute at Penn State University Park, who will receive a portion of the funds to assist in performing traffic data analysis for the project.

Students enrolled in LRC's graduate education programs will also participate in the project, assisting in laboratory testing, data analysis, and on-site evaluations.

The Transportation Lighting Group at the LRC is committed to exploring lighting and visibility issues associated with transportation. The group examines roadway visibility by considering vehicle lighting, fixed roadway lighting, and signal and marking devices separately and as an interactive system. More information on the group and its research can be found at

About the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)

NCHRP is administered by the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Research Council which is the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. NCHRP was created in 1962 as a means to conduct research in acute problem areas that affect highway planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance nationwide. NCHRP is sponsored by the member departments of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration.

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC conducts research in light and human health, transportation lighting and safety, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency, and plant health. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. Learn more at

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America's first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.