COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs residents may have noticed their neighborhoods becoming brighter at night.
There's a reason for that. Many of the 9,000 street lights turned off in 2010 to save money are gradually coming back on. The city has around 26,000 street lights.
According to city traffic engineer Dave Krauth, power remains off to 3,500 lights that are along major streets and use the greatest amount of electricity, and to 300 lights that were damaged after being targeted by copper thieves.
Krauth said electricity has returned to most neighborhood street lights.
"I think we're headed in a good direction," he said. "It may take a little longer than we really want to. But the good news is as best as we can tell, crime didn't increase significantly in the darkened areas."
Krauth said the city learned a lot from turning the lights off, such as that lighting throughout the city was inconsistent.
"Some of those lights were redundant and may never be turned back on," he said.
Krauth said the city also is studying whether to use more LED lights that use less energy. Those lights already are in use along the new Proby Parkway.
Solar power, said Krauth, currently used in many school zone caution signs, also is a possibility, although a remote one.
"We're finding that we do have some expenses with (solar)," said Krauth. "Expenses that maybe we didn't intend to have."
The return of street lights is pleasing to Trudy Kittleson, the neighborhood watch captain in the Virginia Homes area at the north end of Institute Street. She said neighbors chipped in $100 to pay for one street light to be turned on during the shutoff.
"It was frustrating not having light," she said. "When there's darkness, there's always that concern (about safety).