Palm Coast's 2,715 city-funded street lights cost the city about $700,000 per year, but illuminate less than half of the city's major roads.
The city is now trying to change that, planning to contract with a firm for $107,630 to create a comprehensive plan to add street lighting along all major city thoroughfares and to start some of the design work. City Council members discussed the proposed contract with Ormond Beach-based Lassiter Transportation Group at a workshop May 30, and will vote on it at a future council meeting.
"When I tell residents the 2,700 lights are over $700,000, they look at me like I’m absolutely insane, but that’s the cost," Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland said at a City Council workshop May 30. "So when we make these decisions, we can’t just say, 'Yes, we have this immediate need,' but we have to be very sensitive to how it’s going to impact our overall budget."
The plan to illuminate the city's roads through a citywide program known as the Continuous Lighting Program has been in the works for many years. The city cut back on the program during the economic downturn, but it gained impetus again after residents complained about dark streets following the death of 16-year-old Matanzas High School student Michelle Taylor, who was struck by a car and killed while walking along an unlit stretch of Lakeview Boulevard in March.
The proposed contract with Lassiter would require Lassiter to create a master plan for adding lighting along major roads, and also to design lighting for now-unlit stretches of Belle Terre Parkway and Lakeview Boulevard. Lakeview is the extension of Belle Terre Parkway north of Matanzas Woods Parkway.
The addition of street lighting has to be done systematically, Lassiter Senior Project Manager Andrew Ames said at the May 30 City Council workshop. Adding lights inconsistently can lead to roads dappled with light and dark spots, he said, and when drivers pass such areas at night at high speed, their eyes often don't have time to adjust to the changes, hurting their night vision.
Part of Lassiter's work will involve prioritizing the areas to add lighting and determine what kind of lighting to add where. Of the current city-funded lights, City Manager Jim Landon said, 1,542 are already part of the continuous street lighting program, illuminating Palm Coast Parkway, Matanzas Woods Parkway, Palm Harbor Parkway, Pine Lakes Parkway, part of Belle Terre Parkway, Royal Palms Parkway and Tower Center Boulevard. Another 1,173 lights are in residential areas. There are also an additional 4,038 private security lights in the city.
The continuous lighting program lights are installed and maintained by Florida Power & Light Company, Landon said. Most of the current continuous lighting project bulbs are regular phosphorus bulbs, and not the more efficient light-emiting diodes, or LEDs. The city hopes to change that in the future, and FPL plans to include Palm Coast in its push to switch to the more energy efficient technology, Landon said.