If you seek a brighter freeway, look about you

Tags: , , , ,

If you drive on a freeway at night in metropolitan Detroit these days, you’ve likely noticed more lights on – bright lights – making it easier to drive safely. Today, 90 percent of the lights are working more efficiently than ever said Tony Kratofil, Metro Region engineer for Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) at a press briefing today.

This is a stark contrast to just three years ago, when only 70 percent of the lights worked. Lack of funds was cited as a reason many of the outdated lights were not replaced, creating potential safety hazards for metro Detroit drivers.  The risk of a crash is three times greater at night, according to the National Safety Council.

With that backdrop, MDOT administrators embarked on the first public/private partnership in the nation solely focused on freeway lighting. The partnership has resulted in 13,000 new LED light fixtures being installed in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties along I-94, I-75, I-96, I-696, I-375, M-59, the Lodge and Southfield Freeway between April and November of last year. The upgrades will result in an annual energy bill for MDOT that is $2 million less in 2017 and that’s good for Michigan residents.

“MDOT’s partnership with DTE is a great example of how public/private partnerships continue to be a win-win for all Michiganders. It’s great to see such positive results in just six months, and I look forward to seeing additional partnership and savings in the future,” says Lt. Gov Brian Calley.

The partnership also allowed MDOT access to energy efficiency programs that are available to businesses and other governmental agencies. For Irene Dimitry, vice president, Business Planning and Development, working with MDOT is an extension of DTE Energy’s commitment to Michigan communities.

“We think this is a great partnership in line with our aspirations to help communities and help our neighborhoods revitalize and become safer,” said Dimitry. “Along the way they save energy and save money, and that’s great for all of Michigan.”

In addition to the energy savings and the lower overall costs of operating LED light fixtures, DTE Energy gave a rebate check of $1 million to help offset MDOT’s cost of upgrading.

“We are grateful to our partners at DTE for including us in this energy efficiency incentive program because well-lit freeways offer greater safety and security for the motoring public,” said Kirk T. Steudle, MDOT director.