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City to light up the night with new streetlights


by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - These acorn lights on Tooze Road will be replaced by higher-powered 'cobra-head' street lights under a new city plan to update street lighting.It might be a bit longer than first expected, but Wilsonville remains on track to improve a portion of its street lighting infrastructure.

On March 17, the Wilsonville City Council authorized awarding a $131,000 contract to Signal Construction Group to install and improve streetlights at six different locations around Wilsonville. The 2013 project includes improved lighting along portions of Graham’s Ferry Road and Tooze Road and at the Wilsonville Road/Boones Ferry Road intersection. New street lighting also is slated for installation along Burns Way, on Camelot Street near Austria Loop, and at the intersection of Town Center Loop West and Citizens Drive.

The only catch, city engineer Zach Weigel told councilors, is that greater than expected demand for street lighting around the country has set back order times for the new aluminum poles needed for the project.

“There’s been a run on the streetlights we’re getting, so they are difficult to get,” Weigel said. “We had planned on eight weeks of lead time and it’s going to more like 12.”

Nonetheless, with the council’s authorization, work on the needed foundations and electrical conduits will go ahead as planned.

Despite ongoing city interest in purchasing modern LED lighting for its streets, city officials decided to push that type of technological change into the future. The main reason, said City Manager Bryan Cosgrove, is the city’s existing contract with Portland General Electric. PGE actually owns the streetlights in Wilsonville, while the city owns the poles to which the lights are attached. The city contracts with the utility provider to maintain the lights in an arrangement from which both parties benefit.

With LED lighting, however, it’s more likely that one or the other will take over responsibility for the whole package, Public Works Director Delora Kerber told the council in December.

For now, however, the city is content to continue with the high-pressure sodium lamps that have lit streets across America and beyond for many decades.

“We have to be careful about how we work with PGE,” Cosgrove said. “It has to be done from a business standpoint.”

City Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar agreed, noting that changing over to LED lights would also require amending the city’s contract with PGE.

Part of the pending project will involve repurposing existing aluminum poles that will be taken from Graham’s Ferry Road and placed on Burns Way in north Wilsonville, which currently has no street lighting. Tooze Road, meanwhile, will see the current black faux gas lamp style “acorn” lights replaced with taller cobra head lights.

At other locations, Weigel said, as little as a single light will be installed to help fill out the city’s street lighting infrastructure.

Further, Kraushaar said, new cobra head lights at the crucial Boones Ferry Road/Wilsonville Road intersection could help alleviate confusion at night over which lanes drivers are turning into.

“That intersection is significantly under-lit now with the acorn lights,” Weigel said.