New street lights in Savannah to help combat crime, assist drive - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

New street lights in Savannah to help combat crime, assist drivers

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

You may have noticed the streets of Savannah look a little different at night.

Over the past few months, the street lights around town have been changing one neighborhood at a time.

Technically speaking, light emitting diodes are replacing sodium vapor bulbs. Basically, the orange glow that has enveloped the city for decades is turning white.

"LED lighting is definitely a positive step toward better policing and law enforcement,” said Cpl. John Simmons, Crime Prevention Officer, SCMPD.

Generally, a better lit street is a safer street. Of course, new street lights won’t stop all crime from happening in Savannah.

"But it would make it easier for police and witnesses to identify who these persons are committing the crimes,” said Cpl. Simmons.

Plus, the orange glow of the older street lights would sometimes lead to inaccurate reports of a suspect's clothing or the color of a car, even for surveillance cameras.

"They're good, high-quality cameras, but they're only as good as the light source. They're a lot better today than they were a couple of years ago, if you compare footage,” said Bret Bell, city of Savannah.

But it's not just about crime. The lights should make driving safer, too.

"That brighter spectrum of light makes it where our human eyes can see better at night. It also spreads the light more evenly across the roadway. There's not dark spots and bright spots like you have now,” said Matt Gignilliat, Georgia Power.

The downside? The up-front cost for LED lights is much more expensive.

"However, what we've been able to do is work it out so there's no up-front cost to the city, and they're essentially going to be paying the same rates they were paying previously,” said Gignilliant.

Basically, Georgia Power is absorbing the installation cost and charging the city the same rate as before, even though the new lights use less energy.

But not everyone is a fan, a handful of people have already complained that the lights are too bright in their neighborhood. And though the city will consider complaints, they believe it will just take adjusting for most.

"It's a change. People have gotten used to the high-pressure sodium, that orange glow, for decades now. So this is just a different effect out there on the streets. We think they'll get used to it over time,” said Bell.

The conversion project started in July, and at this point 80 percent of the street lights have been switched out. So most of you have probably seen the change in your neighborhood already.

But if not, it won't be long, they expect the entire city to be updated by October.

Copyright 2015 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly