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Street lights transforming once dark, dangerous Tucson neighborhood

KGUN9's Operation Safe Roads
Posted at 2:42 PM, Aug 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 20:35:35-04

Things have been a little brighter in Midvale Park. Three months after street lights were installed on a very dark road, we check in with neighborhood officials to see how the new lights have improved the area. 

Driving down Oak Tree Drive, a main road with street lights on just half of the street, was normal for Midvale Park residents for more than 13 years. 

Joseph Miller remembers how dark it was. 

"Oh, definitely," Miller said. "I was the UPS driver in this area. And I couldn't see nothing."

So does Carol Booty. She's lived in Midvale for more than 30 years. She didn't even want to walk around in her neighborhood. 

"You always had to be on the lookout," Booty said. "If I wanted to walk up there, I always said I was going to, but I never would."

As the neighborhood association's president and vice president, Miller and Booty know the fight for the lights was a long one, going all the way back to 2005. 

That year, a grant was given to the area to light up Midvale Park Road. Extra funds went toward putting lights on Oak Tree Drive. But residents say only 12 lights were installed before the city ran out of money, leaving half of Oak Tree lit, and half in the dark.

It wasn't until this past May when 18 more lights were installed along Oak Tree from Chardonnay Drive to Valencia Road. 

Miller says the lights have made a huge difference. 

"Now you can see those lights," Miller said. "You can make your turn, you're not going to make it too wide and crash into the back walls of someone's house."

Cars crashing into brick walls, even homes, along Oak Tree wasn't unusual, residents say.

There were 24 car accidents on Oak Tree last year, according to Tucson Police. Miller and Booty believe the lights have helped transform the area.

"People want to shop here, they want to live here, [and] they want to go to church here," Miller said. "They want their kids to go to school and grow up here."

Booty has seen the area go from dirt roads, to dark streets, and to now a place she feels comfortable walking around. 

"I remember the first time I went out there, gosh, it was like, this is blinding," Booty said. "Because you weren't used to it being that bright. But it makes a difference now."

The Midvale Park Neighborhood Association is now working toward getting lights installed at Sarah Ann Miller Park.