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18,000 lights could be replaced with LED ones

Posted at 10:33 PM, Jan 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-09 00:33:26-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The streets of Tucson could be seen in a whole new light this year. The city's transportation department is working to make our streets safer by replacing old street lights with new ones. LED streetlights are already lighting up some locations around town. Now, a new plan could make traditional bulbs a thing of the past. 

Jessie Sanders is the project manager behind the transportation department's efforts to replace the city's street light's with LED technology. The project would replace more than 18,000 lights throughout the city, including road and residential lighting, decorative lighting downtown and various garage lighting that the city manages.
He says the switch is better for the environment because they use a lot less energy than their current lighting system.
"LED lighting saves an incredible amount of money so we're going to be saving basically 70% off of our current electric bill for lighting in total and that will pay for the cost of construction."
The plan to re-light Tucson started back in 2014. They've been working with an executive from the International Dark Skies Association to make sure the new lighting doesn't comprise Tucson's night skies.
LED lights give off more of a white light compared to the traditional bulbs that currently give off a yellow glow. Sanders says the change in illumination could also mean safer streets.
"The white light more closely mirrors sunlight. In terms of pedestrians it's about giving drivers the ability to see who's on the sidewalk or the side of the road who may potentially cross that road not in the crosswalk."
New technology would allow the lights to come with adaptive controls so they can be dimmed or shut off as needed. The project would cost an estimated $16 million that Sanders says would end up paying for itself over ten years, eventually saving the city about $180,000 each month. 
The Department of Transportation is set to present the project to the city manager next week.