In Detroit, Michigan more than 50 light poles became damaged and were in need of replacement every month due to vehicle collisions. This year alone, two fatal speeding car crashes on Detroit’s westside resulted in death and have respectively caused a damaged utility pole and a split pole. Car vs. pole collisions are one of the leading reasons why the Public Lighting Authority (PLA) worked diligently to replace the streetlights in Detroit. In fact, the streetlight project was one they had been working on since they were formed in 2013, following the Auto Industry Crisis during which the city fell on hard times causing many streetlights to be neglected and longer operating. In addition, during this economic downfall, an estimated 40% of the 80,000 streetlights within the city were scrapped for their metal.
In December 2016, Dr. Lorna Thomas told The Detroit Free Press that, "This is a symbolic project. It stands for the resurgence of Detroit," Thomas said. "They said it couldn't be done."
The symbolic lighting project has replaced over 65,000 streetlights since 2014 with LED light bulbs that save on energy while emitting a brighter light. The PLA also took it upon themselves to upgrade 85%-90% of the lighting systems and wiring to deter vandalism. Since the old lights using copper based wiring, scrappers would strip the light poles of the wiring to sell the copper linings for money. The PLA also hoped to put a stop to theft by changing the wiring to hang overhead instead of in the ground under the light poles.
Another reason that citizens of Detroit have been pleased by these much needed repairs is because they didn't have to pay for them upfront. The repairs and upgrades were paid for in the form of bonds provided by Citicorp, a New York based banking corporation that agreed to have the money paid back over a 30-year-period, through Detroit’s utility tax.
The PLA was proud to announce that the lighting project had been completed ahead of time and under budget, at the end of 2016. Motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians can benefit from better lightning on Detroit roads as a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) attributed 40% of motor vehicle accidents to be the result of intersections that are poorly lit at night. The USDOT says those accidents can be reduced by 35% if streetlights were properly installed at intersections. So, the completion of the project could not come at a better time as the summer weather causes more cars to be on the road late at night. Also, the new and better lighting keeps users of Detroit's new bike share program MoGo, safer if people want to ride bicycles after dark.
Detroit residents are urged to call 844LIGHT313, if a light in their area needs to be serviced. With Detroit undergoing a revitalization, it is up to the residents to help make sure the city keeps the momentum by making sure streets are lit well enough to potentially prevent crime and car accidents.
The PLA's efforts in redesigning the streetlights could help provide Detroit intersections with much needed lighting to help prevent accidents. In addition to this lifesaver, new streetlights may even deter criminal activity. If you or someone you know have been involved in an auto accident, call the Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. Our firm is highly experienced in dealing with motor vehicle accidents and will help you identify any benefits you may be entitled to under Michigan law.