Light at the End of the Tunnel in San Jose

Transportation dept. almost ready to greenlight LED switch

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Current streetlights mask colors

    The yellow street lights that make some drivers' eyes sore, and which are just an eyesore for others, may soon get the green light for replacement. Tonight is the third and final community meeting where the public can ask questions or address concerns with the proposed switch which would make San Jose street lights white and not yellow.

    "We can improve our vision and use a lower wattage light so we can benefit the environment and our pocket books," said Laura Stuchinsky, the Sustainability Officer for the City of San Jose's Department of Transportation.

    Stuchinsky's office has been working to find the right LED light for the switch. In March, her office invited residents to a demonstration of several different models with different kinds of white light. In April, those residents were invited to fill out surveys giving their observations.

    "People like the white light and they're also more energy efficient," Stuchinsky said, adding that " You can use less light and have the same sense that there’s sufficient light on the ground."

    The main concerns were how the lights would affect the research at the Lick Observatory and how much the lights would cost the city of San Jose. Stuchinsky says the city would buy the lights through federal stimulus dollars and grants. Ultimately, the city could see savings of up to $110,000 a year.

    And that's just to begin. Stuchinsky added that the LED's last as long as 10 to 15 years instead of the 3 to 4 year life the current yellow lights have. Though those yellow lights were the most energy-efficient at the time of installation, that was 30 years ago and technology has changed everything.
     
    Tonight's final community meeting is at San Jose City hall at 7 p.m. The City Council should hear the Transportation Department's recommendation in late September.