Southfield street lights to be replaced during road construction

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – City officials will take advantage of ongoing Southfield Road construction to get a deal on lighting along the route.

The City Council voted Tuesday to add replacement of the current streetlight system to the project at less than half what it otherwise would cost.

City Administrator Eric Waidelich said during a work session prior to the council meeting that the current Southfield construction offers an ideal time to replace the streetlights with newer, more aesthetically pleasing light poles.

The new posts will be one-piece, fluted and tapered with a black finish and a decorative clamshell base with twin arms on top. Each will have four banner arms as well. The lamps will be teardrop-type glass optics and Holophane lights.

The project involves 126 street lights on Southfield from Pinecrest to Riopelle, with 60 light poles affected and 66 not affected. The new poles would replace the ones currently on the outer edge of the road and would be installed in the center of the median, with many bearing two lights instead of one.

According to Michigan Department of Transportation estimates, the cost for 148 lights on 70 poles would be $683,000. The revenue credit for the upgrade would be $177,889, with an MDOT “light-for-light” credit of $274,000. The estimated removal cost of nonaffected lights is $66,000. The estimated final cost to Allen Park is $298,000.

Mayor Gary Burtka said fewer poles means the city will pay less in “per pole fees” for future maintenance to DTE Energy.

Waidelich said the project could be funded through state major road funds. City officials have been assured by state officials that the funds still will be available despite recent state budget cuts.

Maintenance fees paid by the city to DTE also will decrease. A total of 126 poles now line the stretch of road, costing the city $35 to $40 per pole per month. That number will decrease to 78 poles with the installation of 70 new center median poles with two lights apiece.

“With half as many poles, we pay half as many fees,” Waidelich said.

Lincoln Park, which also is affected by the Southfield Road construction, also will have an opportunity to replace its streetlights.

“DTE is thinking both communities will do this,” said Rick Lang, city engineer and director of public services, adding that the new lights won’t be upgraded to light emitting diodes, which have a reputation for reduced energy consumption.

“We would have to put up more structures to accommodate the lights,” which Lang said would be placed on DTE poles.

Councilman Kyle Tertzag asked why the focus was not on increasing energy efficiency.

“I’d rather (we) pave some roads than get some pretty lights,” he said.

Lang said the current situation offers the potential to improve the lighting system for a third of the normal cost. “It would cost us $683,000 to do this on our own. It is best to do this when the Southfield is being worked on.”

Lang said temporary lighting will be placed along Southfield during construction. He also mentioned plans to resurface Ecorse Road in 2011 at an anticipated cost of $500,000.

“We knew the traffic on Ecorse Road would increase while the Southfield was being worked on,” Waidelich said. “We’ll work on Ecorse Road immediately afterwards.”

Waidelich said if grant money is forthcoming, officials hope to improve the street lighting near Allen Park Middle School, 8401 Vine, and a small nearby business district along Champaign near Rosedale. He wants to see more of a “quaint feel… so Allen Park can be the jewel it should be” and said he is waiting for estimates on that project from DTE.