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Detroit’s lighting up

Detroit is lighting up … in a very green kind of way.

The Downtown Detroit Partnership, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the Detroit Downtown Development Authority and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan have teamed up to install 1,077 new high-efficiency LED street lights in key areas of Downtown Detroit. The program will replace nearly half of the lights Downtown.

These new lights will save 40% in electricity costs and create a more attractive environment. Here’s where they’ll go:

  • Woodward Ave. from I-75 to Jefferson Ave.
  • Cadillac Square from Campus Martius to Randolph St.
  • Griswold St. from Fort St. to Jefferson Ave.
  • Congress St. from Beaubien St. to First St.
  • Larned St. from Beaubien St. to Washington Blvd.
  • The streets near Comerica Park and Ford Field
  • The Paradise Valley area (formerly known as Harmonie Park)
  • An area bounded by I-375, Larned St., Beaubien St., and Congress St., adjacent to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan campus
  • Jefferson Ave. from Cobo Convention Center to I-375
  • Certain sections of Moncalm St., Randolph St., and Park Ave.

“This project has a double benefit,” said Mayor Dave Bing. “It creates a more comfortable environment for downtown workers, residents and visitors, and the high-efficiency lamps will immediately start saving money. I look forward to creating more of these opportunities through collaborations in other business districts and neighborhoods.”

The light fixtures are energy-efficient and fit in with the streetscapes. They will save money three ways:

  • Each new LED lamp draws an average of 240 watts of power compared to the 400 watts needed by the existing lamps, yet the light output is the same. The energy cost savings by replacing more than 1,000 lamps is almost $57,000 per year.
  • Since the bulbs last about 10 years, compared to the three-year lifespan of the existing lamps, the City will also save substantially on the cost of bulbs and the labor to replace them.
  • By reducing the overall load on the downtown street lighting system, Detroit Public Lighting Department officials expect significantly fewer costly power outages from overloads.

The project costs $1.3 million. The Detroit Downtown Development Authority identified $1.22 million from its own funds and U.S. Department of Energy grants, and the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) contribution of $87,500 was made possible by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is managing the project.

One of the distributors of the light fixtures, Hercules and Hercules, Inc. is a Detroit-based business.

The new lighting will upgrade the area surrounding the Blues’ campus bordered by Congress, Lafayette and Beaubien. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is delighted to partner with the City of Detroit, DDP and the DEGC in an initiative that makes Detroit a safer and more energy efficient place to work, live and play,” said BCBSM President and CEO Daniel J. Loepp.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees walk down BLUPath.

Besides the new lights BCBSM is also celebrating its newly renovated entrance for Renaissance Center Towers 500-600. The entrance includes an open, foot-friendly walkway, stretching along the front of the towers the Blues occupy in the Renaissance Center down to Jefferson Avenue. Previously the entrance did not allow direct access for pedestrians from the street, making it difficult to navigate for walkers to-and-from the Renaissance Center.

Employees walked from Lafayette to the new Renaissance Center entrance waving rally towels. They were led by Loepp; Tricia Keith, vice president, Corporate Secretary and Services, and Rick Morrone, vice president, UAW and auto accounts, whose employees are moving to Renaissance Center Monday (November 21)  Dan Cole, general manager, Tom’s Oyster joined the walkers as they passed his restaurant.

The renovations are the latest step in the Blues consolidation of employees to its Detroit campus. Since May, nearly 3,000 Blues employees have moved from Southfield to renovated offices in the Renaissance Center. When the moves are complete in 2012, 6,000 Blues employees will work in Detroit, making the health insurer the largest employer in the central business district.

The new lights and street-level improvements come just in time for the launch of the annual Detroit Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Campus Martius Park later in the day.

There are more lights going in as well. The City Council approved Mayor Bing’s proposal to get 5,000 lights back on over the next three months. The focus is on repairing lights in the residential areas where the majority of Detroit’s population lives. The city has also contracted with DTE to replace 3,000 lamps in dense areas and the Public Lighting Department staff is focusing on fixing the grid that supplies an additional 2,000 lights across the city.

Photo credit: Karpov the Wrecked Train

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One comment on “Detroit’s lighting up

  1. This is a good start but we really need street lights that work in residential areas, particularly where kids live. All the lights are out on a street in my neighborhood. I hope those invested in downtown are equally invested in the city's neighborhoods. I'm glad Mayor Bing is planning next steps but I'm anxiously awaiting positive progress that is equitable for Detroit's residents, not just downtown workers and visitors.

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