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Detroit finally takes action to get the lights on in the city … quickly

Getting the lights on

For too long, too much of Detroit has been in the dark. That’s about to change.

The Public Lighting Authority of Detroit is moving quickly to get the lights on throughout the city. It began last week when workers installed a new LED (light emitting diode) light at the corner of Greiner and Hamburg streets on the east side as the first of 50,000 new lights that will be installed in the city over the next two years.

“Today marks a milestone in providing modern, reliable public lighting for the citizens of Detroit,” said Mayor Mike Duggan, who was present at the installation.  “With the decision to install all LED lights the Public Lighting Authority (PLA) is ensuring that we are providing our citizens with up-to-date technology that will serve our city well for the foreseeable future.”

1044763_352572054870592_2019840730_nLast year two sections were designated to begin the relighting process. The boundaries for the eastside section are Eight Mile, Kelly Rd., Hoover and Houston Whittier.  The west side boundaries will be McNichols on the north, Southfield Rd. on the east, Fenkell on the south and the city boundary on the west.

Both of the sections are expected to be fully lit by the end of May. The job of taking care of and maintaining the lights will fall on the PLA when that occurs. If any of the lights are broken, the plan is for them to be fixed within 5 days after they are reported.  Citizens will be given the appropriate contact information for reporting any lights that have been damaged, have gone out or have other problems.

PLA Executive Director Odis Jones said the installation of the first LED lights shows that his board is getting things done for the city and is “determined to provide the citizens of Detroit with the lighting they deserve.  Clearly we are on our way to reversing decades of disinvestment in the city’s street lights.”

1619148_254655431362146_1967378195_nAn engineering survey done last year looked at every light in the two pilot areas. That survey revealed that half of the lights in both areas were not working.  A similar survey is being conducted in the rest of the city so data is available when the teams are ready to get the lights on in other areas.

The PLA also changed the kind of lights that will be installed. When relighting first started last November, high pressure sodium lights, which are the traditional lighting choice, were used. In January the PLA board voted to switch to LED to speed up the process of relighting. The goal is to have the installation completed by the end of 2015 and underground wiring of the thoroughfares done by the end of 2016.

The LED lights are a good choice because they provide brighter lights and are more cost effective, according to Jones.  He said the LED lights will be the equivalent of 150 watt high pressure sodium lights, which is more than twice as bright as the 70 watt high pressure sodium lights that have been the standard in the past. In addition, the price of LED lights has been going down in recent years … all leading to a more affordable alternative for the city.

If you would like to know a lot more here is video of Mayor Duggan talking about the strategy to get the lights on in the neighborhoods.  It is long.

In case you’re wondering about the Public Lighting Authority here’s some info. The PLA was authorized by the Michigan Legislature in December 2012 and approved by Detroit City Council earlier this year. Its job is to design and implement a plan to improve Detroit’s public lighting system. The PLA is governed by a five-member board, all Detroit residents, appointed by the mayor and the city council.

We all know Detroit used to be called the Paris of the Midwest. This could certainly help Detroit make a “city of lights” again.

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