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Let there be light

More streetlights coming to Lehigh Acres

August 28, 2019
By MEGHAN BRADBURY ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Two power companies are working in Lehigh Acres to lighten the streets for children waiting for the school bus to provide a safer area.

A list of suggested locations, which were based on the priorities set by the streetlighting district committee, as well as a list of school bus stops provided by the school district, were put together by the county. In addition Lee County also compiled a list of intersections that did not have lights.

Lee County spokesperson Tim Engstrom said in an email that the county used GIS and the inventory of current light locations from FPL and LCEC and compared that to a list of all intersections in Lehigh and all school bus stops. He said if a school bus was more than 100 feet from an unlighted intersection it was identified.

The list was shared and both power companies began doing design work.

Out of the 178 lights FPL designed, Lee County approved 176 lights. LCEC designed 241 lights and Lee County approved 212. Engstrom said six were voided due to it being duplicate listings, or a light was already present. He said 23 remain in design.

Lehigh Acres Streetlighting Unit Board Member Robert Saul said the project is important because children waiting at the bus stops should have proper illumination.

"LCEC is working really hard to get those lights illuminated. FPL has not been working as hard as LCEC," he said. "We have a person in charge from Lee County. We meet with them once a month to go over the status of what is going on. Each month we get a status of how many of these lights have gone up."

Saul said the light project has been in the works for quite some time.

"LCEC has been working very hard to get this done. A lot of money has been spent. It's a top priority to make sure the students that go to the bus are going to have illuminated bus stops. We are doing everything we can to put more money towards that," he said.

Lehigh Acres Streetlighting Unit Chair Mohamed Yasin agreed that the project has always been important to have done.

"We stressed it as of recent because of not complaints necessarily, but of the two companies that service Lehigh, LCEC and FPL. They were not working on those types of things. Every time the school year comes around we ask for them to do that, the importance of having the light," he said, adding that they have had the money to fund the project. "They (LCEC and FPL) are not active enough. This has been going on for years."

Yasin said they have at least $3 million in the pot, $1.8 million left to be spent through September.

"We have enough money to cover all of Lehigh," he said. "We don't have walkways through Lehigh. It's (lights) for everybody here in Lehigh. For the kids it is extremely important for lights everywhere."

He said the money has always been approved to get every intersection, or every bus stop lit.

"What we are suggesting . . . subcontract out and have it done if they are too busy. Sub contract it out and get what we have identified done and spend the money," Yasin said.

Florida Power and Light Spokesperson Nina Srick said they work with counties and municipalities to offer a variety of options when the decision is being made to update, or install new street lights.

"We work with counties and municipalities to offer a variety of options at the request of the customer," she said.

The lights will feature LED technology and are 50 percent more efficient. Srick said the lighting provides better visibility as it is brighter and more consistent.

The installation of the lights had not begun as of Aug. 15, but the final paperwork was received by FPL the second week of August.

"Generally it starts between eight to 12 weeks to allow time for permitting and transferring material for installation," she said of installation.

LCEC spokesperson Karen Ryan said they also provide installation and maintenance of lights when customers request them.

"The Lehigh Lighting District requested lights as part of their Municipal Service Taxing Unit," she said. "We offer the installation and maintenance service to our customers because it is less costly to have lights located on existing utility poles. LCEC also has the equipment and skill for maintaining the lights when needed."

Installation has already begun for LCEC with a total of 15 different jobs for a total of 235 LED lights.

"We are more than halfway finished with installation of the lights in our areas of Lehigh Acres," Ryan said. "Our goal is to complete installation of the lights within our service territory by the end of August."

She said they understand the importance of safety.

"Although we are not in the lighting business, we are proud that we are able to offer assistance to customers within our service territory," Ryan said. "We understand the importance of safety and are happy that local residents are willing to invest in their communities through lighting districts and projects such as this."



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