Public Lighting Authority of Detroit board votes to go with all LED lights and accelerate work schedule

January 29, 2014

Public Lighting Authority of Detroit board votes to go with all LED lights and accelerate work schedule

DETROIT – The Public Lighting Authority of Detroit (PLA) Board decided Wednesday to exclusively use Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lamps as it rebuilds the city’s street lighting system and to accelerate the pace of installation with a goal of completing all neighborhoods within 18 months.

The revised plan was submitted to the board by PLA Executive Director Odis Jones, who said that research had shown that LED lights provide brighter and more cost efficient light and will better serve the Detroit community in coming years.  He said the LED lights that will be installed in neighborhoods will be 150 watt lights that are more than twice as bright as the 70 watt High Pressure Sodium lights that have been the standard in the past.

In addition to providing for a street light at every street corner in the City, the Board also required a light in the middle of any block that is more than 400 feet long.  The previous plan approved by the Board last year had required lights in the middle of any block 600 feet long or more.

“When we began installing lights in our two demonstration areas in November, we said that we would continue to evaluate lessons learned within those areas and continue research on the most effective way to proceed as we relight the City of Detroit,” Jones said.  “After considerable research and value engineering, it is clear to us that LED lights will provide a better answer for the city than the traditional High Pressure Sodium lights.  We also determined that we could accelerate our construction schedule to finish the neighborhoods within 18 months rather than the original plan of three years.  As a result, we recommended that the board make both changes in the plan adopted last year.”

Jones said the plan is to conclude all overhead wired lights in the city by the fourth quarter of 2015, with the neighborhood portion of the project completed in 18 months.  All work on underground wiring, primarily along major thoroughfares, is scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2016.

Board Chair Dr. Lorna Thomas said she was convinced, based on information presented to the board, that both the switch to LED lights and the accelerated neighborhood schedule make sense.

“Our mission is to provide Detroiters with an efficient, reliable street lighting system that they have been denied for far too long,” she said.  “The plan the board has adopted today is a major step in moving the city in that direction.  The accelerated plan, combined with the fact that the new lights being installed are twice as bright as the old lights, will provide Detroiters with the lighting they deserve well into the future.”

Jones said that the first order for LED lights will be issued on Thursday and that he expects the first shipment of lights will come in time to begin installing them within two to three weeks.  In the meantime, he said, crews that have been installing lights will carry out general repair work that is required as part of rebuilding the system.  He said the High Pressure Sodium lights that have been installed in the initial phase of the demonstration project will be replaced as part of a normal maintenance schedule once the work in the rest of the city has been completed.

Jones said the two demonstration areas should be completed in May and that work will continue uninterrupted moving out into the remainder of the city.

The east side demonstration project is comprised of an area with boundaries of Eight Mile, Kelly Rd., Hoover and Houston Whittier.  The west side demonstration project has boundaries of McNichols on the north, Southfield Rd. on the east, Fenkell on the south and Telegraph on the west, with a small extension in the Five Points area of the city south of McNichols and west of Telegraph.  

About the Public Lighting Authority of Detroit

The PLA was authorized by the Michigan Legislature in December, 2012 and approved by Detroit City Council in 2013 to design and implement a three-year 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.