LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign legislation aimed at restoring light to huge swaths of Detroit after lawmakers in the state House approved the bills Thursday.
One part of the legislation will allow Detroit and some other cities to establish public authorities to run their lighting systems while another would allow part of a utility users’ tax to fund public lighting repairs.
Detroit has roughly 88,000 street lamps, about half of which the city estimates are in disrepair. The public lighting authority, if created, would concentrate first on restoring functional lighting near schools and population centers.
Denny, who has lived in a west side neighborhood near Lynwood and Lodge since 1994, said the lights haven’t always been dysfunctional.
“It’s always pitch black around this area right here. It didn’t used to be like that though, like every single light would be lit up. So, I don’t know what happened,” he said.
Denny said the lack of street lights doesn’t really bother him, but he can see how somebody visiting the neighborhood could be bothered by the darkness.
But the lack of lights can’t be blamed on power issues, because several homes in the Pilgrim Village neighborhood, near Lynwood and LaSalle, were lit up like beacons with Christmas lights.
Kirk Latner doesn’t necessarily visit the city, but he has worked in the area of Hamilton and Oakman for about nine years. He said the lights there have been out for years and thinks the percentage of the city’s non-working lights is probably a lot higher.
“This whole strip is dark, this whole area is dark, there’s nothing but dark spots all up and down the streets. That ain’t no 50 percent,” he said.
Mayor Dave Bing has called for spending up to $160 million on repairs and improvements.
Bing had hoped the lighting legislation would have been passed and signed into law by the end of the summer, but the package of bills was stalled for months until extensive negotiations led to state Senate approval last week.
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