Detroit is shining much brighter than it did just a couple years ago, and is now “a beacon” for cities nationwide.
That was the consensus at an event Thursday, as the city flipped the switch to celebrate 65,000 new streetlights.
Mayor Mike Duggan has made overhauling Detroit’s street lights a priority. An estimated 40% of them weren’t working when he took office.
Duggan worked with Governor Snyder and the state to create Detroit’s Public Lighting Authority.
And despite some turnover and other internal issues, the PLA has managed to re-light the city with new LED bulbs ahead of schedule, in just under three years.
Duggan says this was about setting a “national standard.”
“Detroit will be the largest city in America with 100% public LED lighting,” he proclaimed Thursday.
Detroit didn’t receive any federal money for the re-lighting effort, which was financed with a $185 million bond issue. It will be repaid from a dedicated portion of the city’s utility user tax.
But the Obama Administration did provide some expertise and other on-the-ground help. U.S. Office of Management and Budget director Shaun Donovan attended Thursday’s celebration in Detroit.
Donovan said the new LED streetlights will save energy and money, and make a real difference.
“When a kid wakes up and can go wait for the school bus, not in terror but on a well-lighted street corner, that’s making a difference that people can feel, and can see with their own eyes,” he said.