Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Washington, D.C. now sports 1,360 LED street lights in its alleyways

May 14, 2012 - 10:01 AM
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(Photo: flickr/takomabiblet)

This morning at 11:30 a.m., Mayor Vince Gray will venture into a Columbia Heights alleyway to replace the last of about 1,360 old alley street lights with newer energy-efficient LED lights expected to save 591,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year as well as reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 719 tons. Most street lights now last about four or five years, and these new ones will likely last about a dozen.

The contract first moved forward in the middle of last year. "LED provides better power, better color — it's a white color," Jama Abdi, an engineer for the District Department of Transportation, told me last July.

The first of the LED alley lights, as part of the million-dollar contract now concluding, was expected to have been replaced late last summer. Washington, D.C. has taken close to 10 months to complete the replacement of these 1,360 lights. Last summer, DDOT said it hoped to replace about 1,000 over the course of six months. The District government has also stated it's looking into how to integrate LED lights more broadly across the city's 68,000 street lights, nearly nine out of 10 of which are high-pressure sodium lamps.

But the alleys mark a good start. The public space is critical for a community's pedestrians, who rely on the spaces to cut through and circulate. Safe passage frequently calls for other residents using the alleys and proper illumination. Don't underestimate the transportation implications of a good, functioning alley in any town.

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