On the night shift: LED streetlight installation on West Seattle arterials

(WSB photo: City Light crew converting streetlights this week along SW Thistle)

Back when Seattle City Light started converting streetlights to LEDs, the conversion was initially planned for residential streets only.

Then, the utility decided in 2013 that it would be OK to convert arterial streetlights too, and while the subsequent work began in the north part of the city, this summer, that conversion has been moving full speed ahead in West Seattle.

This past week, we noticed a crew working late at night on the streetlights along the two arterials closest to WSB HQ, California SW and SW Thistle, which are now fully switched over in the Gatewood/Fauntleroy area. So we checked in with Seattle City Light on the conversion status, as well as the reason work was being done at night (while we’re still working at 11:45 pm, seemed a little noisy for residents who sleep more “normal” hours).

Spokesperson Scott Thomsen explained, “Crews have been working nights since June 1. This shift change was done mostly due to Metro trolley routes and to avoid disruption to busy arterial streets when they are most busy and for crew safety.” The night work is expected to end within the next month or so; in the meantime, he says, crews are reminded to be mindful of the noise, but while the “tool they use to loosen and tighten bolts does make a ‘ratcheting’ type noise” – this was the observation made in our note asing about it – “The crew will typically spend less than 10 minutes at any given light.”

Thomsen wasn’t sure how much longer the work, now in the service area south of SW Brandon, will be going on in West Seattle; though we do a fair amount of night driving around West Seattle, we haven’t seen the crews since the work close to our neighborhood around midweek. He says, “The scheduling estimates are not that specific since the crews work in rows across the service territory.”

Around the city: “A little more than 16,000 arterial lights have been converted to LED and our contractor will continue with conversions through December. In 2017, we should complete the arterial conversions.” Checking our archives, this appears to be an acceleration, as it was just last year that West Seattle arterial conversions weren’t expected to start BEFORE 2017.

Also from the archives: As this WSB story from 2010 shows, West Seattle was a test area when the city started planning the non-arterial streetlight conversions.

BACKSTORY: More background on the LED streetlight program can be found on this page of City Light’s site.)

11 Replies to "On the night shift: LED streetlight installation on West Seattle arterials"

  • Gatewood1 August 27, 2016 (11:16 pm)

    Booooooo hissssss….hate these lights, it’s literally daytime on my street and in my yard at night now. Hope they have dimming capability. Bummer we have to trade in way of life for security, thanks again mayor McCheese.

    • WSB August 27, 2016 (11:31 pm)

      For mayoral accountability –

      As noted in the story, the LED streetlights date back to 2010, which was three years before the current mayor was elected. And the original plan apparently dates back two mayors ago: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/kill-the-lights/Content?oid=1740981

    • Mike August 28, 2016 (8:19 am)

      Home Depot, Lowes and McLendon’s all sell blinds and curtains, they work great.  I’m super happy they’re using LED.  1) Last a LOT longer, 2) Cost WAY less, 3) the light they emit isn’t harsh on my eyes like the flickering yellow garbage they’ve used for years that is actually a strain on your eyes over time while driving, 4) They consume a fraction of the power, again a cost saver

      • AMD August 28, 2016 (9:34 am)

        Agreed on all counts!  They light up the front of my house well enough that I don’t have to turn on the porch light, saving me money and the trouble of fighting off moths to get in the front door!  Not to mention the full-house illumination is a better theft deterrent than my front porch light ever was.

  • OP August 28, 2016 (7:49 am)

    I love this move, I really do. Huge energy savings (aka: taxpayer cost) using long-lasting LEDs, and the streets are better illuminated. (I always hated those peach-colored lights.) One nit: Given the good illumination, they don’t need quite as many light poles. (Morgan coming up from Thriftway is a good example of where they could skip every other light pole and still light up the street.)

    Speaking of which, anyone know how to petition the city to get a street light put in on one’s street? Ours is terribly dark….

    • Neighbor August 28, 2016 (8:10 am)

      Call the CL South Service Center at 615-0600. 

      • OP August 28, 2016 (10:42 am)

        Thanks! :)

    • Mike August 28, 2016 (8:20 am)

      Speaking of which, anyone know how to petition the city to get a street light put in on one’s street? Ours is terribly dark….”  Same here, we need more.

  • zephyr August 28, 2016 (8:19 am)

    These new lights are ridiculously too bright. Whoever chose this wattage is not our friend. This glaring bright light has ruined biking or walking at night. We now live in an industrial zone. We might as well be down at the docks unloading freight at night. Has anyone else noticed how bright they are? The original amber-colored lights were wonderful at night. Maybe not that energy efficient, but the night was peaceful and calm.

    Also there seems to have been two phases to this. They replaced many or most of those in our neighborhood with the white lights a year or more ago. Those were bright too, but somewhat tolerable. Apparently they weren’t bright enough for the folks at City Light. The ones they are putting in these past few weeks are much BRIGHTER. It’s rather painful to drive under them at night—very distracting and uncomfortable.

    Not a happy camper with this latest “improvement”.

  • XXX August 28, 2016 (8:44 am)

    Good (albeit somewhat old) article here addressing LED streetlights:


    I’ve had them near my home for a few years now, and love them. Much truer color rendition at night. Under old sodium vapor lamps it’s too hard to get an accurate description of color. Plus, it just looks more natural. 

    I’ll take brightness and safety anytime. 

  • astro August 29, 2016 (11:21 am)

    Happy the lights are brighter and energy saving but sad you can see the stars even less…but that’s the compromise. 

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