OK, this is not what you think. Nobody died.
It’s a post about Colorado Springs turning off 10,000 of the city’s 25,500 streetlights to save $1.25 million.
Crews from Colorado Springs Utilities are in the process of darkening lights all over the city.
As of Wednesday, 3,106 streetlights had been deactivated, achieving $499,000 in savings.
There is a long way to go to reach the goal.
So far, crews have shut off about 48 percent of the targeted lights along arterial streets — major roads.
Only about 28 percent of the targeted residential streetlights have gone dark.
What are the adoption fees?
For an entire year of service and maintenance lower-wattage (under 175 watts) lights cost $100 and higher-wattage (over 175 watts) cost $240. Higher-wattage lights are usually found along busy, multi-lane roads. Currently, citizens may adopt a lower-wattage light for $75 for the rest of the year.
Citizens who adopt a light after July 1, 2010 will be charged $50 for lower-wattage lights and $120 for higher-wattage lights. For further information about fees call 385-5903.
Among those upset is Art McDonnell, seen here with his light, who lives on a cul de sac in Village Seven.
He’s owned the home 22 years and used to take the light for granted.
Then, as president of the Village Seven Homeowners Association, he started to realize how lucky he was to have the light when other neighbors complained about living in the dark and asked for streetlights.
He discovered they are expensive and began to appreciate his solitary beacon.
Now he’s upset the light is out.
He said folks using a nearby entrance to Village Seven’s network of greenways will risk being hit by cars as they come and go in the dark.
And he finds it ironic the entrance will be dark but the greenways are lit because Village Seven homeowners pay for private lighting.
The city feels it has no choice because is trying to bridge a $28 million overall budget gap.
Turning off streetlights is one of many cost-cutting steps being taken.
Already, a police helicopter has been sold.
Bus service is being curtailed.
Community centers shuttered. Pools closed.
Trash cans removed from parks.
McDonnell is considering filing an appeal to get his light turned back on. Folks can do that by appealing in an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about the program on the city’s Street Deactivation page at SpringsGov.com.
And watch the page in coming days for information on an “adopt a streetlight” program the city is developing so folks like McDonnell and his neighbors can pay to keep their light burning.
Crews are doing more than just disabling each light’s photo cell that automatically turns lights on at dusk, said Bryan Babcock, who oversees streetlight maintenance at Springs Utitilies.
In the process, they are swapping out old, inefficient mercury vapor bulbs with newer, more energy-efficient high-pressure sodium bulbs. About 2,500 of the old mercury vapor bulbs still remain in the city.
The photo cells are being replaced by $3 plastic plugs. Once removed, the cells are being tested before storage.
McDonnell said neighbors are burning porch lights in the absence of their streetlight. He said lessons he learned during Neighborhood Watch programs put on by the HOA have convinced folks of the value of lights in deterring crime.
In fact, in 2008, the U.S. Justice Department published a 50-page report that concludes streetlights deter crime.
Scientist John Bullough of the Light Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute reportedly disagrees. He was quoted last August in USA Today saying that there is little evidence to suggest streetlighting deters crime.
Bullough did warn cities not to darken intersections because lighting prevents traffic wrecks.
The USA Today article described how cities across the country are turning out streetlights to save money.