Reshaping Detroit by Turning Out the Lights

In an effort to save money and to rationalize civic services, Detroit is going to be turning out the streetlights in "distressed" areas.
June 24, 2012, 5am PDT | Michael Dudley
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With the population in twenty of its neighborhoods dropping in some cases to only 10 or 15 percent of former levels, and its municipal debt in excess of $12 billion, Detroit is trying to rationalize many of its services, including sidewalk repair and bus service. Now the city is planning on cutting back on streetlights, thousands of which use 1920s technology that is too expensive to replace. According to the Toronto Star,

"Other U.S. cities have gone partially dark to save money, among them Colorado Springs; Santa Rosa, Calif.; and Rockford, Ill. Detroit's plan goes further: It would leave sparsely populated swaths unlit in a community of 713,000 that covers more area than Boston, Buffalo and San Francisco combined. Vacant property and parks account for 96 square kilometres, according to city planners.

Detroit's dwindling income and property-tax revenue have required residents to endure unreliable buses and strained police services throughout the city. Because street lights are basic to urban life, deciding what areas to illuminate will reshape the city."

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Published on Friday, May 25, 2012 in Toronto Star
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