Shedding a little light on city’s streetlights

THERE ARE A LOT of things around us that are part of our everyday lives that most of us probably don’t even notice or pay attention to.

Streetlights are likely one of those things.

We use them to get around safely through the city, but probably never bother to take a close look at them.

The Plymouth City Council’s Public Works and Utilities Committee is doing just that, however – taking a closer look at the city’s streetlights.

What they’ve found is a true hodgepodge, as committee chair Alderperson Jim Sedlacek described it.

There are more than 1,200 streetlights in the city in four different styles, several of which in turn are broken down into several different sub-sets of styles. Some of the streetlights in the city date back to before World War II.

Most of them are high-pressure sodium style, while some are induction style lights.

The committee began delving into the issue due to the upcoming repaving project for State 67 through the city, scheduled for next year.

The lights on the northern portion of State 67 – North Milwaukee Street from the north city limits to Elizabeth Street, Elizabeth Street between North Milwaukee and Caroline streets, and Caroline between Elizabeth and Mill streets – have to be replaced as part of the project.

That stretch of highway reflects the streetlight situation citywide, with nearly every different style to be found there.

With the help of a grant from the state Department of Transportation, the city will bring uniformity in streetlights to that area with the installation of 44 LED carriage-style lights.

They will be the first LED streetlights in the city, which will cut maintenance costs drastically. They will also provide more light – important to safety and security for residents and drivers – than the older acorn style lights.

Now the committee is grappling with a uniform streetlight policy for the city. Following the precedent set for the State 67 project would seem the right way to go.

Many have a sentimental attachment to the historic acorn lights that dot many of the city’s oldest neighborhoods – as well as new neighborhoods that attempt to replicate the feel of older neighborhoods.

But the acorn lights are initially more expensive than the carriage lights – almost three times as expensive – and apparently don’t provide as much light, an important consideration as well, as the carriage-style lights.

Additionally, it seems almost self-evident that all future streetlights should be LED lights.

The cost of replacing 1,200-plus streetlights throughout the city at one time would be prohibitive. City staff estimates the cost of replacing one light at just under $1,200, making the cost of replacing all lights citywide at one time well over $1 million.

But it would be prudent to set a policy standardizing streetlights throughout the city as they are replaced in the future – either when they wear out or street projects dictate their replacement.

At issue:
Streetlight policy
Bottom line:
Citywide one is overdue

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