Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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City has a brighter idea: new lightbulbs

How many Evanston officials does it take to change a light bulb?

Residents will soon find out, as the city’s street lamps are being revamped with bulbs that are expected to shed as much as 30 percent more light on Evanston streets, officials said.

The 18-month project to fix the city’s dimly lit roads is coming to a close, said Public Works Chief Dave Jennings.

“(Changing the street bulbs) is important because we do have a high level of pedestrians each day, ” Jennings said. “We have a lot of commuters waiting for trains and a lot of students in the traffic area.”

The city experimented with two types of bulbs, a metal halide and an induction, and installed 20 of each bulb throughout the city, Jennings said.

Though the halide bulbs gave off a brighter, more natural light, they were too short-lived, Jennings said. So the city chose the more-expensive induction lights, which have a longer bulb-life.

“The induction light is fairly new to the United States,” Jennings said. “There may be one other community that has it now.”

The induction lights will replace the city’s 20-year-old network of mercury vapor street lights.

The city’s 5,500 street light bulbs will be replaced over the course of the next four to five years.

“Even though they keep burning, they provide less and less light on the street,” Jenning said of the mercury vapor lights. “You can see the bulb burning in the fixture but you don’t see much effect on the sidewalk.”

This transition to brighter lights should help put pedestrians walking through downtown and near Northwestern at ease, said Women’s Coalition member Katy Quissell, a Weinberg junior.

“I think that clearly (the change is) beneficial to the lighting situation now,” she said.

The old lights might have been “more attractive,” Quissell said, but “to me, who cares about aesthetics when there are dark places that are scary to walk through at night?”

Police said they expect the brighter streets to keep crime down.

“It’s a chain reaction,” said Lt. Linda Black of the Evanston Police Department. When streets are not well lit, pedestrians tend to avoid them, she said.

“If people don’t feel safe using something, they won’t use it.”

And streets without pedestrian activity favor illegal activity, Black continued.

“Where would (a criminal) break into? A place where he feels no one is watching him.”

Brighter streets also create a more profitable consumer situation, Black said.

“It’s a business thing too,” she said. “Commerce goes down if (the area) is unsafe.”

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City has a brighter idea: new lightbulbs