Res­i­dents learn about LED street­light plan

Yuma holds first of 3 open houses Thurs­day

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARA KNAUB @YSMARAKNAUB

With the Yuma Pub­lic Works Depart­ment pre­par­ing to re­place about 7,500 street­lights be­gin­ning in Novem­ber, the city in­vited res­i­dents to learn more about the tran­si­tion by at­tend­ing one of three open house meet­ings.

The city held the first one Thurs­day at the Yuma Readi­ness and Com­mu­nity Cen­ter. The other meet­ings will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thurs­day, Oct. 19, at the Yuma Pub­lic Works Ser­vices Build­ing, 155 W. 14th St., and Oct. 26, at the Yuma Civic Cen­ter, 1440 W. Desert Hills Drive.

At the first open house, city of­fi­cials re­vealed the re­sults of a field study con­ducted by the Pub­lic Works Depart­ment. The city said 73 per­cent of res­i­dents in the test ar­eas pre­ferred the light-emit­ting diode light­ing, bet­ter known as LEDs, that re­placed the high-pres­sure sodium street lights pre­vi­ously in place.

The city changed the street­lights in

three sub­di­vi­sions and four in­ter­sec­tions and asked res­i­dents for their feed­back. Seventy-three per­cent gave pos­i­tive com­ments with a few ex­press­ing con­cerns.

Res­i­dents who fa­vored the LEDs pointed out that the light was more true-to-life than the am­ber light re­flected by the cur­rent sodium fix­tures. An­other per­son noted sodium lights did not give suf­fi­cient light to be able to see down the street, as the LEDs seem to do.

Ac­cord­ing to Pete Mon­talvo, pub­lic works man­ager, one gen­tle­man dis­liked the brighter lights be­cause thieves would be able to see him bet­ter. An­other man said it didn’t mat­ter whether the lights were darker or brighter, he would still get robbed.

Iron­i­cally, one of the rea­sons of­fi­cials cite for chang­ing the street­lights to LEDs is for im­proved pub­lic safety, point­ing out the LEDs dis­trib­ute light more evenly along the road­way, in­creas­ing vis­i­bil­ity in dark spots between street poles, rather than solely dump­ing light di­rectly be­low street­lights as sodium lights cur­rently do. The new fix­tures will fea­ture a 3,000 kelvin LED stan­dard for street­lights.

An­other res­i­dent asked “why fix it if it’s not bro­ken?” How­ever, Mon­talvo said the sit­u­a­tion does need fix­ing be­cause the cur­rently tech­nol­ogy is chang­ing so rapidly that high­pres­sure sodium lights are be­com­ing ob­so­lete, mak­ing it harder for the city to find re­place­ment parts. Big­ger cities are buy­ing out the stock just as the parts man­u­fac­turer is slow­ing down pro­duc­tion. The city cur­rently re­places about 80 sodium lights ev­ery year.

The en­tire coun­try is slowly chang­ing to LEDs, “not just Yuma,” Mon­talvo said, liken­ing it to the time when the en­tire na­tion changed from ra­dio to tele­vi­sion.

An­other rea­son the city has de­cided to con­vert to LEDs is to save more than $5.4 mil­lion in en­ergy and main­te­nance over the next 10 years. LEDs last longer, use far less elec­tric­ity and are less main­te­nance in­ten­sive, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pre­pared by the city.

The city es­ti­mates that at full im­ple­men­ta­tion, it will save more than $100,000 per year in main­te­nance costs and more than $250,000 a year in en­ergy costs.

The cost to re­place the city’s 7,500 street­lights to LEDs will be about $3.7 mil­lion, which will come from the city’s road tax fund. The con­trac­tor, Siemens In­dus­try, will per­form the con­ver­sion work in about nine months and “prop­erly” dis­pose of the ex­ist­ing lights. Each fix­ture will take about 45 min­utes to change. Ex­ist­ing poles, bases and un­der­ground ca­bling will re­main in­tact.

The work will take place Mon­days through Fri­days dur­ing day­time hours and may in­clude some week­ends. Work on road­ways with heavy traf­fic may re­quire week­days between 6:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

The work will not re­quire road clo­sures. While crews work, side­walks and curb­side park­ing spa­ces will be tem­po­rar­ily re­stricted. The work will not af­fect util­ity power to ad­ja­cent prop­er­ties, the city said.

Work zone maps and sched­ules will be avail­able on the city’s web­site, www.yu­maaz.gov.

‘Smart city’ deal

Paul Bri­er­ley, who lives out­side the city’s lim­its but fre­quently goes into town, at­tended the Thurs­day open house to learn more about the project. He liked that the con­ver­sion would save money on en­ergy and main­te­nance over time. But what re­ally in­trigued him is the “smart city” deal at­tached to the project.

The city en­tered into an agree­ment with any COMM Hold­ings Corp., which prom­ises to bring a $10 mil­lion in­vest­ment to Yuma in the way of a city­wide high-speed wire­less net­work, light­ing con­trol and im­proved pub­lic safety and se­cu­rity through the use of cam­eras in ex­change for use of the pho­to­cell sock­ets on the street­lights.

This would make Yuma the first “smart city” in the state and the first one to im­ple­ment the project com­mu­nity wide in the na­tion.

“To make Yuma the first smart city is pretty neat,” Bri­er­ley said.

The any COMM wire­less net­work nodes will be si­mul­ta­ne­ously in­stalled at the same time the street­lights are con­verted to LEDs. The de­vices are ca­pa­ble of bring­ing in 5G and 6G when­ever they’re rolled out for cell­phone net­works.

Fea­tures also in­clude the pos­si­bil­ity of plac­ing car charg­ing sys­tems on poles and ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal sen­sors that could col­lect data on air qual­ity, chem­i­cal de­tec­tion and tem­per­a­ture, with a heat tol­er­ance of up to 188 de­grees.

As part of the pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship, the city will re­ceive 20 per­cent of the rev­enue for the 20-year life of the project and 5 per­cent of the band­width will be set aside for city govern­ment use. The de­vices can ac­com­mo­date mo­bile car­ri­ers, who can pay to have ac­cess to the nodes, trans­lat­ing to a new rev­enue source for the city.

Bri­er­ley hoped the new broad­band ca­pa­bil­ity will even­tu­ally ben­e­fit ru­ral ar­eas, specif­i­cally agri­cul­tural fields around Yuma. Farm­ers have ex­pressed frus­tra­tion with the lack of broad­band ser­vice around their fields, lim­it­ing their abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with work­ers via cell­phone, which they have said is vi­tal to their work.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the project, email the Pub­lic Works Depart­ment at streets@yu­maaz.gov or call (928) 373-4504.

PHO­TOS BY MARA KNAUB/YUMA SUN

A HIGH-PRES­SURE SODIUM LIGHT (left) and a light-emit­ting diode, or LED, lay side by side at an open house held by the Yuma Pub­lic Works Depart­ment Thurs­day. The city is pre­par­ing to re­place about 7,500 street­lights be­gin­ning in Novem­ber. Paul Bri­er­ley ex­am­ines the dif­fer­ence between high-pres­sure sodium lights and LEDs, which are smaller and lighter, mak­ing re­place­ment less la­bor in­ten­sive.

PHOTO BY MARA KNAUB/YUMA SUN

JOEL OLEA, DI­REC­TOR OF YUMA’S PUB­LIC WORKS Depart­ment, sets up demon­stra­tion equip­ment at an open house meet­ing held Thurs­day to in­form res­i­dents about a street­light con­ver­sion project start­ing next month. The city will re­place 7,500 high­pres­sure sodium lights with light-emit­ting diodes, or LEDs.

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