Woodbridge company created Ontario's new, high-tech highway signs
Jan. 20, 2015
By Adam Martin-Robbins
Electronic road signs along Ontario highways are getting a splash of colour, a second language and simpler, clearer messages.
And there’s a Woodbridge company behind all of it.
Transportation Minister and Vaughan MPP Steven Del Duca announced Tuesday morning the provincial government is rolling out dozens of full-colour, bilingual signs that use symbols along with words - in English and French - to help motorists better navigate Ontario’s major roadways.
“This is the first bilingual, image-based sign plan developed and executed provincewide in Canada,” Del Duca said.
“These signs will help improve road safety, manage congestion on provincial highways and keep people and businesses moving.”
The signs employ internationally-recognized symbols and less text to quickly convey information to drivers, no matter what language they speak, about road conditions and traffic flow so they can react and choose alternative routes, Del Duca explained.
Drivers will get warnings about collisions, lane closures or hazards ahead such as snow, ice or fog.
If there aren’t any hazards on the roads, the signs can be used to offer reminders to motorists about keeping their tires inflated properly and signaling lane changes.
The signs, costing about $650,000 each, are manufactured by Ledstar.
The Woodbridge-based company, founded more than 25 years ago, employs 42 people and has created highway signs for customers across North America and around the world.
“Chances are pretty good that if you’ve been travelling on a highway from B.C. to Nova Scotia to California to Florida ... you’ve seen our product,” said Greg Bartlett, Ledstar’s vice-president of business development, during Tuesday’s announcement.
“The signs we’re making for Ontario today, we’re proud to say, are really and truly the most advanced of their kind in the world. They’re really state-of-the-art LED. It’s very energy efficient. They’re very bright and very discernible to traffic and that is really what adds the punch to make them very valuable in traffic management and safety.”
The province’s plan is to replace about 50 older signs with the new electronic signs over the next decade or so.
Twenty-one new signs have already been installed along routes in southern Ontario, including on Hwy. 401 near Toronto and Pickering and the QEW near Niagara, Burlington and Mississauga.
Another seven signs have been erected in northeastern Ontario on Hwy. 11 and Hwy. 17.
Electronic signs installed before 2009 cannot be reprogrammed with the new technology, but some in place since then can be adapted and upgraded, Del Duca said.