Fly into either of Chicago’s major airports at night and you’ll be greeted by the sight of a glowing grid with neat rows of yellow-orange streetlights stretching as far as the eye can see. The grid isn’t going anywhere, but the yellow glow that hovers over the city will soon be a thing of the past. Crews have already set to work installing new ceramic metal-halide lights, which are not only more energy efficient, but produce less light pollution, and generally look more natural and pleasing to the eye.
The main reason that Chicago is upgrading its streetlights is to save money; metal-halide lights are much more energy efficient than the existing sodium vapor lamps, and they have a lifespan that’s two to three years longer. The city estimates that it will save $40 to $70 per light, which will add up to about $1.8 million in savings per year. The energy savings will also decrease the city’s carbon emissions by 15,000 metric tons per year, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.
In addition to streetlamps, Chicago is planning to replace 1,000 traditional traffic signals with new LED lights, which are safer and more energy efficient. Crews have already started installing the whiter, brighter metal halide lights along Lake Shore Drive and along the city’s 300 miles of alleys. Eventually, they plan to replace them all.
“If you’ve seen Chicago from the sky, you’ve seen the orange glow,” CDOT spokesman Brian Steele told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It won’t be that way anymore.”
Lead Photo © Genista