Street lights in Colorado Springs that were turned off to save money in 2010 will be coming back on sooner than expected.
As part of Mayor Steve Bach's preliminary budget for 2013, enough money was saved from the 2010 shut-off that the final group of 3,500 lights along busy streets will be turned on in the next six weeks.
Turning on lights in residential areas has already been completed, and workers began the process of turning on remaining lights a month ago.
"Each of those street lights has to be touched by a human being," said Kathleen Krager, the city's transportation manager. "They have to go up and change the equipment on the street light, so that requires men in a bucket truck to go up and work on them. There is a piece of equipment at the top of each street light that they actually have to go in. They put a dummy one on while the street lights are off. They go to replace the dummy piece with the real piece, and that turns the street light back on."
The announcement is good news for residents like Lisa Davis, who has a pilates class on a dark section of 8th Street and also drives regularly along dark stretched of Interstate 25.
"It has been really hard to negotiate the roads sometimes with the lack of lights, and it's also been really scary when there's bad weather," Davis said.
Workers will also make the lights more energy-efficient as they're turned on. However, Krager said the city will not expand the use of energy-saving LED lights. Some of those lights line the new Proby Parkway near the airport.
"Some consider them a bit bright," she said. "They have a high glare factor. We'd like to give the prices a chance to go down some, and for the technology to improve. As we do new street projects, we'll look at (LED) on a case-by-case basis."
Krager said workers are making street lights harder for copper thieves to target, and repairing about 300 lights damaged by thieves. She said copper theft isn't happening as often as it once was, but it remains a concern.