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With the flip of a switch yesterday afternoon, the mayor of Colorado Springs illuminated an intersection and closed the book on a dark chapter of the city’s recent budget history. KRCC’s Liz Ruskin was there for the drumroll and has this report.
Mayor Steve Bach was up in a cherry-picker on the corner of Academy and Constitution Monday afternoon to turn on one streetlamp. It’s the symbolic last light of about 8,000 the city turned off nearly three years ago as part of a cost-cutting program that drew criticism nationwide. Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager says the city’s financial picture has improved since then, and turning the lights back on is vital for safety.
“We live in a city where are arterial streets have a lot of curves, a lot of hills, and unexpected things coming up. You need those lights on at night so you can see what you’re doing. It’s also a big safety feature for pedestrians and for business along the roadway.”
The city restored lighting in residential neighborhoods in 2010, and began switching 3,500 road lights on in October. Each light had to be turned on by sending a worker up in a cherry-picker, resulting in a one-time cost of $150,000 this year. Electricity for the road lights will cost another $100,000 a year.
The city says all working lights are back on, but residents may notice some are still dark. Officials say this is due to copper wire theft or other maintenance issues, and crews are working to repair these lights.