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Multiple pedestrian deaths prompt update on Memphis streetlight infrastructure

In July, the city expected construction to begin in Fall 2022. Now, partnerships with third-party company Ameresco, Inc. are said to begin on Jan. 27, 2023.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In July, the city of Memphis had plans to upgrade the streetlights in neighborhoods, citing that construction was expected to begin in Fall 2022 and reach completion by Fall 2023.

Given the recent number of pedestrian crashes and even deaths in December, some in the city wonder when the streetlight upgrade will take place.  

"The world is evolving," one Memphis driver said. "I think that it should make sense to evolve the lights on the streets as well — we’re changing headlight lights on vehicles, and it should match what’s coming from the street lights, you know, and should be able to maximize the visibility.”  

MLGW said of the approximately 85,000 streetlights in the city, about 1,500 of them have been reported as out. The utility provider says outages occur most commonly because of vehicles hitting poles, cable faults occurring and damage by third parties.

The partnership between the City of Memphis and MLGW and third-party company, Ameresco, Inc. is slated to begin on Jan. 27. The city said, on this date, streetlight replacements will begin. 

The city's goal is to complete all updates and installations in January of 2024. 

The lack of visibility is a problem for which some Memphis drivers say a solution is long overdue.

“I wear glasses, so I can see very well, but there was this moment ... there was a pedestrian in the street, but because of lack of visibility, it was hard for me to see this guy," one Memphis driver said. "So, you know, I had to swerve and move out of the way."

So far, this year there have been at least 78 pedestrian deaths here in Memphis — 3 of them happened in the span of five hours Tuesday evening after sundown. 

As the city is set to begin streetlights and replacements, LED lights are not only cheaper but they're proven to reduce crime.  

To report any streetlight outages MLGW says you can complete the online form on their website or call 901-544-6549.

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