DETROIT (WWJ) – The tedious task of auditing Detroit’s much-maligned street lighting grid is officially underway in a couple of neighborhoods.

WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas caught up with surveyors at one of two pilot project areas on the city’s east side, near Gratiot and East State Fair, where workers armed with high-tech GPS units are going pole to pole collecting data.

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“I just logged in and now the GPS is coordinating where I’m at within a couple of inches. Now, I’m looking at the light pole and I can determine what type of arm it is, what type of light it is,” said an unnamed auditor.

The audit will map each street light, approximately 6,600 of them, determining their condition. This information will be used to design a specific plan to relight both areas as a prelude to finalize a plan to completely restore street lighting in Detroit over the next three years.

“Our hope is, of course, to re-lite the city. We’re taking this opportunity to go through every single street light in the city and make a determination as to what the condition is of each one of those streetlights, respective if it’s working or not working,” Marvin Beatty, vice chair of the Public Lighting Authority, told Thomas.

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Odis Jones, executive director of the Public Lighting Authority, said construction of new lights in the pilot areas will begin this fall. He also has a message for copper thieves who have crippled several of the city’s light poles.

“A lot of the lights have a coil at the bottom of the light post. The new lights that we install will not have that coil. So, to the copper thieves who go out looking to steal that, we’ll just let them know up front that there won’t be anything there,” he said.

The audit is expected to be complete within the next few weeks.

Detroit has roughly 88,000 street lights, over half of which the city estimates are in disrepair.

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The Public Lighting Authority was authorized by the Michigan Legislature in 2012 to support and develop a plan to improve public lighting in the city of Detroit. Its creation was approved by the City Council earlier this year. The authority is overseen by a five-member board that is appointed by the mayor and the City Council.