Along with picking up trash, fixing potholes and degrading roads, and the new lights, the city government is showing the Detroit residents that none of them are forgotten. After decades of a declining population, Mike Duggan, the mayor of Detroit, could confidently say the population is now holding steady and even rising.
Although most of the growth of Detroit is focused downtown with the help of billionaire Dan Gilbert, the owner of Quicken Loans, there’s still 139 square miles of the city that needs to prosper. The Obama administration’s efforts to make LEDs cheaper has allowed the city to replace and add lights so that 65,000 bright LED lights now stand across the city.
The new, stronger lights will save Detroit almost $3 million in electric bills. Since the lights use aluminum wiring, it discourages crime because no one wants to strip that material. In addition to these benefits, it will cut carbon emissions but more than 40,000 tons a year.
It’s not just economic and environmental effects these lights are having on the city. It’s also helping small business owners and night life. Many restaurants had to shut down in the evening because when it got dark out people weren’t comfortable with walking around at night. Now, there’s much more foot traffic and small business fronts are booming!
I believe this is one of the best programs the City of Detroit has implemented in years. Growing up a few miles up Woodward, I was always warned not to be Downtown Detroit at night. It wasn’t safe even for a group of my friends and I because it was dark and crime was more likely to happen, just like in any big city. With the new lights, it’s pretty incredible how the night life has increased and people from many suburbs are here to enjoy Detroit in hours that weren’t spent outside before.
A non-intended ripple effect of these new lights is trust within the government. Now that they can hold promises of rehabilitating Detroit and adding the infrastructure that the city and surrounding suburbs needed, trust may be one of the most invaluable things that came out of this project.
Photo from the NYT article: