New streetlights on the way to some Detroit neighborhoods

October 22, 2013

Crain’s Detroit Business
By Kirk Pinho
October 22, 2013 2:43 PM

New streetlights on the way to some Detroit neighborhoods

Some Detroit residents will begin seeing new streetlights in their neighborhoods starting early next month.

The Detroit Public Lighting Authority announced today the pending streetlight construction and installation, along with results of a review of the lights in those neighborhoods.

Almost 45 percent of the streetlights in the two pilot areas weren’t working, according to a news release.

In the east-side pilot area, 1,417 lights out of 3,194 weren’t working, or 44.4 percent. In the west-side pilot area, 794 of the 1,745 lights (45.5 percent) weren’t working.

In total, 4,939 streetlights were surveyed. Of those, 2,211 (44.8 percent) were not working.

The two pilot phases were in the areas bounded by Eight Mile, Kelly and Hoover roads, and Houston-Whittier Avenue on the east side; and McNichols Road, the Southfield Freeway (M-39), Fenkell Street and Telegraph Road on the city’s west side.

“Before we could develop a plan to renovate the city’s street lights, it was critical that we have accurate, up-to-date information on the system as it exists today,” Odis Jones, executive director of the public lighting authority, said in the news release.

“Since most of the current data was 15 years old, that made it necessary to go out and survey the condition of every single light.”

Under a state law signed last year, the public lighting authority is expected to use revenue from the city’s utility users’ tax to finance about $160 million in bond debt for the anticipated improvements, which are expected to come in phases over three years. Additional funding could come from grants.

Many of the city’s streetlights operate on a circuit where if one light goes out, the entire series goes out. Those circuits would be upgraded to parallel circuits, fixing the problem.

One of the other issues causing outages is theft, which is expected to be addressed in part by burying circuits and transformers. Other problems include vandalism and poor maintenance.

DTE Energy Co. provides power to about 55,000 of the city’s 88,000 streetlights. The remaining 33,000 lights are the city’s responsibility to power.