The Motor City is financially strapped, trying to dig out of a $265 million deficit and saddled with more than $12 billion in long-term debt. In addition to its cash-flow problem is a shrinking population, so the city’s governing body is considering turning off half of its streetlights in sparsely populated areas in order to save money, reports the New York Daily News.
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The process of deciding the fate of streetlights has actually been put into effect in a few cities across the country like Santa Rosa, California, Colorado Springs, Colorado and Rockford, Illinois which have gone partially dark because they too were also cash-strapped but not to Detroit’s extent. With nearly 40 percent of its existing 88,000 street lights not working anyway and since the city can’t afford to fix them, the initiative would save nearly $10 million a year. The responses to the move have been both good and bad.
One eco-friendly, preservers of the night group, The International Dark-Sky Association, which has a large chapter in the U.S., contends that much outdoor lighting is not only wasteful, but counterproductive. It cites poorly placed street lights that blind drivers as much as help them, or misplaced safety lighting that creates sharp contrasts that can hide intruders rather than expose them. Nighttime lights have been implicated in some environmental problems, such as confusing birds and bats.