Minneapolis aims to boost street lighting to enhance public safety

As the days darken earlier and winter approaches, Minneapolis leaders hope to bring renewed brightness to the city’s streets.

Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget proposal for 2023 and 2024 includes $9 million for street lighting upgrades, with the goal of promoting public safety. The money would be used to fill a backlog in repairs, upgrade existing lights and add new streetlights.

“The goal is to make people feel safe, but also to deter criminals,” Frey said in an interview on Friday. “Criminals fear a well-lit street.”

If Frey’s proposal is approved by City Council, $9 million would go to replacing and repairing lighting systems in the neighborhoods of Stevens Square, Loring Park, Como and Marcy-Holmes, where officials say the Outdated and damaged wiring caused widespread problems. breakdowns.

Additionally, the city could tap into a $1.45 million pot for maintenance and repairs, and a $2.5 million project fund could help pay for new streetlights.

Council member LaTrisha Vetaw, who represents the North Side, defended the initiative, which she dubbed “Get Lit Minneapolis.” In an interview Friday, Vetaw said one of the first things she heard from voters after taking office earlier this year was complaints about the lights. She estimates that her office receives five to ten calls about broken lights each week.

“If you’re all alone in a part of town that’s dark, it can feel really scary,” she said. “It looks like a small thing, but it’s really a big deal.”

The mayor’s budget proposal said funding would require “a conversation about the policy of evaluating this work.” Currently, the city rates landowners for street lighting, but Frey’s budget website says “reducing the rate to something similar to street construction projects (25%) is an option being considered.”

“These are the basics that people in our city should expect,” Frey said.

Earlier this year, the city spent $1.2 million from the US Federal Bailout to begin addressing a backlog of repairs that has built up during the pandemic.

During these repairs, the city aims to use more LED lights, which Frey says are higher quality and longer lasting. Vetaw said an LED pilot program in his neighborhood has garnered a lot of positive feedback from voters.

Vetaw encourages residents to report outages to 311 or their council members. She added that her office is also having conversations with Xcel Energy, which is responsible for the city’s 28,000 wooden streetlights. The city manages some 20,000 metals.

Public hearings on Frey’s proposed budget will be held at City Hall on Tuesday evening and Dec. 6. The board will approve a final budget by mid-December.