DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – With a flip of the switch, and some important repair work, street lights in an east side Detroit neighborhood are coming back on.

In what was the first installation of many, a crew from Overhead Lines, LLC. spent just over two hours repairing a street light at the intersection of Brock and Collingham, near Eight Mile and Gratiot on Detroit’s east side.

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Public Lighting Authority board chair Maureen Stapleton is pleased that the work is beginning earlier than expected.

“This board was formed back on March 1,” Stapleton said. “Eight months later we have surveyed this area, we’ve begun the

Company President Mike Moriarty gives thumbs-up after testing showed the light worked.  (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

Company President Mike Moriarty gives thumbs-up after testing showed the light worked. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

design work, and we’re actually putting in new lights.”

A recent survey showed that half of the lights were broken or burned out. Stapleton said it usually it takes from 45-70 days just to transition from one step to another.

“This has been, by all accounts from people who are in this industry, the fastest that anyone has been able to make this kind of turn-around happen for citizens,” Stapleton explained.

Area resident Dionne Williams said that the corner has been dark and has resulted in a lot of recent break-ins and is happy that something is finally being done to fix the blackout.

“This corner always has something going on and you cant see anything,” Williams said. “With the recent break-ins, (having lights) would mean so much. We will appreciate the lights, that’s for sure.”

Williams also hopes that with working lights, children will be safer on their way to school.

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“They get off the bus right at that corner, and all of them walk this way,” Williams explained. “It’s so dark in the morning when they go to school.”

The Public Lighting Authority projects that as many as 500 streetlights just in that area still need to be replaced.

“We suspect that about 46,000 of the 88,000 lights across the city are out on any given day,” Stapleton said. “That’s just horrific. Many of them are down or have just been out for so long; we have antiquated systems, bulbs that we can no longer buy.”

Authorities suspect that entire blocks are left in the dark at night because overhead lights are blown or busted, or because the wiring has been ripped out of ground-level transformer boxes by thieves. Odis Jones, executive director of the Authority, said the new lights are theft-proof.

“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,” Jones previously told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas.

The Authority, which is governed by a five member board — all Detroit residents, was expected to issue $160 million in bonds to pay for improvements to street lights in neighborhoods, along streets and freeways.

An engineering survey of the two pilot areas that was recently completed showed that nearly half the lights in both areas are not working. Surveyors went pole-by-pole with high-tech GPS units mapping each street light and determining their condition.

“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,” said Marvin Beatty, vice chair of the Public Lighting Authority.

A complete restoration of the city’s streetlights is projected to take around three years.

Overhead Lines, LLC repair crew switches-out old, non-working street light and extension arm for new replacements.   (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

Overhead Lines, LLC repair crew switches-out old, non-working street light and extension arm for new replacements. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

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