New Street Lamps Along LSD Failing

City's infrastructure may not be up to snuff, causing more than 200 of the new lamps along the lakefront to fail

Charlie Wojciechowski

There may be a myriad of causes but just one result: a number of the new street lamps installed along Lake Shore Drive have failed, and a big part of the repair may be up to taxpayers.

All over Chicago, hundreds of the old-fashioned sodium vapor street lights have been replaced with new, more energy efficient white metal halide lights. But either due to their proximity to the lakefront or problems with underground wiring, more than 200 of them have failed, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

The contracted company installing the new fixtures is on the hook for repairs to the fixtures themselves, but any problems resulting from the city's infrastructure is up to taxpayers.
The city has spent $25 million dollars on the upgrades over the past year. Roughly $13 million came from a federal grant.  The rest came from local and state matching funds. About 2,300 streetlights have been replaced on 16 miles of Lake Shore Drive from 71st Street to Hollywood Avenue.

Another 3,000 lights line 24 miles of Western Avenue from Howard Street to 119th Street. An additional 11,000 lights will illuminate 300 miles of alleyways citywide.

Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele told the Tribune that weather and environmental conditions along the lake may have contributed to bad circuits and frayed underground wiring.

The lights installed farther away from the lake have had far fewer problems, he said.

The new lights were expected to save the city $1.8 million a year on electricity.

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