- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - A three-year, $185 million street lighting overhaul in Detroit is expected to be completed this month.

Work crews have replaced tens of thousands of old high-pressure sodium fixtures with brighter light-emitting diode lights, or LEDs, which use less energy, the Detroit Free Press (https://on.freep.com/2hxde5H ) reported.

The project was funded through New York-based Citicorp, which underwrote the bond issues. Detroit will pay back the bonds over 30 years with $12.5 million annually from the city’s utility tax.

Public Lighting Authority Chairwoman Dr. Lorna Thomas said the project is symbolic as it represents the resurgence of Detroit. The city exited from bankruptcy two years ago.

Officials are preparing to celebrate the project on Thursday with a lighting ceremony downtown. Gov. Rick Snyder and other state and local dignitaries are expected to attend.

“It’s not the actual last light, but we’re going to do something really special,” Thomas said.

As of now there about 65,000 streetlights installed, a smaller figure that reflects Detroit’s reduced population and brighter LED technology.

Thomas noted that all of Detroit’s new lights should be up and working by Dec. 31.

The relighting project began in earnest in early 2014, when an estimated 40 percent of Detroit’s 88,000 street and alley lights weren’t working because of vandalism and deferred maintenance. The new streetlights use more overhead wiring instead of underground wiring and no longer have copper at their base, to help deter vandalism.

According to lighting officials, the new LEDs may not illuminate all sidewalks and yards in the neighborhoods as well as the old lights did. They said that is because LEDs give off a more directed beam of light onto the street, with less light spilling over beyond the street.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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