Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tampa to spend $2.2 million on 8,400 street lights

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 12:46 PM

These signs will soon be posted in areas where streetlights will be installed
  • These signs will soon be posted in areas where new streetlights will be installed
Like other major cities, Tampa needs to make improvements and enhancements to its basic infrastructure. Some of those needs, like stormwater protection or new sidewalks, are exceedingly expensive.

Some, like adding street lights, aren't as expensive.

On Tuesday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced that he will commit $2.2 million over the next five years to install 8,4000 streetlights throughout the city, including lower-income areas that suffer most egregiously from the lack of such lighting.

"It is a crime issue and it is a public-safety issue," Buckhorn told a crowd that gathered for a press conference in front of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in East Tampa. "As you know, we've had a number of pedestrian fatalities that have occurred at intersections and streets in our community. Perhaps the lights could have been stronger. The lights could have been brighter. There could have been more lights."

It was nearly a year ago that a pregnant woman was killed in East Tampa in part because of a lack of sidewalks and adequate lightning, something that nearly every City Council member acknowledged needed addressing.

Nobody looked happier about this development than City Councilman Frank Reddick, who represents East Tampa, Sulpher Springs and the Ybor area — three parts of the city in need of more street lighting.

Calling it a "major, major" event for the neighborhoods he represents, Reddick said it was a proud moment for the city.

"You just don't know how much this mean to these neighborhoods. It means a lot," he said. "A lot of calls I get from residents right now are complaining about the lighting. It's been difficult to get this done."

The Department of Public Works will soon survey canopies to determine where the first lights will be installed. Buckhorn said the installations are "deliberative and specific."

Tampa public works administrator Mike Herr said the city's transportation department will gather information in the months to come, and has already done some inventory on the project. He said the actual location of the lights are yet to be determined, but there will be three main criteria: high accident corridors, neighborhoods with high incidents of crime, and community redevelopment areas that need additional street lights.

The city will work with Tampa Electric Company (TECO), with light installation scheduled to begin in January. TECO president Gordon Gillette said members of the community who see burned out lights should fill out a form on the company's website .

Shedding light on the scope of this project, Gillette said Tampa has 30,000 street lights, and this program will enhance that amount by almost 25 percent.

City officials said they began seriously discussing the plan in June. Mayor Buckhorn said funding this effort was always part of his campaign agenda.

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