PARKER, Florida – Major cities across the country are changing the way they light up the night, choosing to retrofit or change to LED street lighting from traditional high-pressure sodium lighting, all in the name of energy conservation and making the roadways safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Major cities such as Boston, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, Portland and Seattle have either switched to LED lighting or are in the process of a retrofit.

Now, following the footsteps of much larger cities, the City of Parker in Bay County, in partnership with Gulf Power, is making the switch. New LED lighting will be installed in two areas of the city that were dimly lit, creating a safety concern.

“We identified two areas we thought could benefit from brighter lighting and provide greater safety for motorists traveling through the city,” said Parker Mayor, Richard Musgrave. “There are some areas in the city that have historically presented some problems with the amount of lighting and we wanted to make sure we addressed those areas.”

The City of Parker identified two areas due to safety concerns that could benefit from new LED lighting. One area was around the curve on U.S. Hwy. 98 Business near Pitts Avenue. (BEFORE)

Specifically, the city wanted to provide better lighting around the curve on U.S. Hwy. 98 Business near Pitts Avenue, and the curve on Tyndall Parkway near Ivy Road. With the help of lighting experts at Gulf Power, the city identified a total of 20 lights that could be replaced with LED lights and used as a trial for switching additional lights throughout the city.

“Our customers are recognizing the benefits and the quality of LED lighting, and we are getting more and more requests to change out existing lights, especially from municipalities,” said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson. “Along with the project in Parker, we have several projects with the Department of Transportation, as well as several municipalities, throughout our service territory to upgrade to LEDs because they illuminate better, fixtures last longer and they require less maintenance.”

U.S. Hwy. 98 Business near Pitts Avenue AFTER 14 new LED lights were installed.

Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, have significant advantages over traditional high pressure sodium or metal halide street lighting where safety precautions are a concern. One of the biggest advantages is the ability of the lighting to be controlled to shed evenly across roadways, sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks.

“We worked with the city to tailor the lighting to their specific needs and roadway conditions,” added DelaHaya. “The two different lighting fixtures in this case are designed to project brighter and more consistent lighting that will make the areas safer for motorists and pedestrians in the area.”

City officials were also factoring in other advantages to retrofitting the lighting. LEDs are up to 50 percent more energy-efficient than amber, high-pressure sodium lights. They are environmentally friendly, require less maintenance and draw less power than traditional lights.

“This is a great opportunity for our customers and we expect more cities and municipalities to take advantage of it,” DelaHaya said. “The added safety of the new lighting will benefit all residents.”

Mayor Musgrave, who along with the City Council members initiated the project, had the opportunity recently to drive the two areas that were retrofitted with the new LED lighting and can’t believe the difference in the quality and amount of light.

“The difference is astounding with this new lighting,” said Musgrave. “This simple task of changing out lights is going to make it a lot safer for everyone traveling these two stretches of roadway.”

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