An $185 million project to completely overhaul the street lighting in Detroit has just been completed after four years of work and a lot of effort from the now defunct Obama administration.
In the past Detroit had been labelled as having the ‘worst streetlights in America,’ but the completed project has re-cast the city in a completely different hue after 88,000 luminaires were replaced.
The new lights will reduce the city’s carbon emissions by around 40,000 tons, which is the equivalent of removing 11,000 cars from the streets.
Detroit is now the largest city in the US to be lit only with LEDs and it is expected that the new fixtures will knock over $3 million off the city’s annual electricity bill.
For many years the antique street lighting in Detroit had been the target of vandals who used to stripthe old sodium lamps of their valuable copper wiring.
The new LED fixtures feature aluminium wire, which is so cheap that it isn’t worth the time and effort to steal.
Great swathes of the city in years past were often subject to bouts of darkness as the faulty lighting failed on a regular basis, prompting a rise in crime.
Blocks on the city’s east side were often left entirely unlit leading to the mayor and later the federal government to step in.
The lack of street lighting away from the city centre was extremely damaging to local business as potential customers stayed away after dark.
It was reported in The New York Times that footfall in unlit urban areas of Detroit often fell to zero after dark. This is now up 15 percent, in the weeks since the lighting has improved.
With the city also investing heavily in its public transport system, it is hoped that the new lighting will play an important role in healing divisions in the city, knitting back together neighbourhoods that had previously been left out in the dark.