ELYRIA — Does anyone have any bright ideas on how to fix the problem of broken street lights on state Route 57?
City officials keep running into closed doors when it comes to possible fixes for the main thoroughfare, where approximately one-third of the more than 300 traffic lights from Chestnut Ridge Road to Lorain Boulevard are burned out or broken.
Mayor Holly Brinda said Monday that she hoped for a better update on the situation. However, city Engineer Tim Ujvari said that after checking with CT Consultants, the original design firm on the reconstruction project, the hopes of removing every other light pole to reduce the number of lights needed is a no-go.
“The answer we got was no,” Brinda said. “So that means we have 330 lights we need to transition to LED.”
It was not the answer City Council wanted to hear.
“I can’t believe we are stuck with all those lights,” said Council President Mike Lotko, D-at large. “I have to say I can’t remember driving to any other city and seeing all those lights on one stretch of road. It’s crazy.”
“I thought it was crazy, too,” said Ujvari, who since his arrival in the city a few years ago has been plagued with trying to find a way to fix a project completed long before his tenure with the city. “But the consultant ran a light analysis and said removing every other light would mean hot spots of lots of light and dead spots with little lights.”
The lights are spaced 150 feet apart. Removing every other light would increase the distance to 300 feet and not fit within traffic standards. The spectrum and disbursement of light wouldn’t add up, he said.
Relighting all 330 lights will not be cheap. Brinda said there are a few funding options the city can look to.
“The good news is we are learning that there is money out there,” she said, adding that the fix would be in the neighborhood $200,000.
Brinda said FirstEnergy offers a rebate and Elyria could snag about $72,600 for an energy conservation project. PJM Interconnect, an electric cooperative, offers incentives to customers who install energy-efficient equipment. Elyria could receive $70,000 over four years, Brinda said.
Another option is money from NOPEC, the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council. A grant from NOPEC would be a little less than $160,000.
Brinda said the city can’t apply for all the programs, but the grants could offset the costs of replacing the lights.
Finance Director Ted Pileski said there is always the option of waiting until the city is done paying for the 2008 reconstruction project and rolling the money over into fixing the lights on the road. The final payment on the project will go out in July and the savings would about $270,000 for the remainder of 2018 that could be applied to the lighting situation.