A new report from a city consultant says more than three-quarters of the areas tested in Evanston fail to meet industry standards for street lighting.

The report, from Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd., is scheduled to be discussed at a public meeting later this month.

Fairly typical of the 19 areas tested was Dodge Avenue between Washington and Seward streets, where the study found an average of 0,66 footcandles of illumination, just half the 1.3 foot-candle level recommended for a major strreet with medium pedestrian traffic under the standards of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.

Green Bay Road’s intersection with Payne Street and Jackson Avenue.

The only major street with medium pedestrian traffic that the report said scored well was the stretch of Green Bay Road from Payne to Simpson streets. The study found the actual lighting level there, of 2.28 footcandles, exceeded the recommended level.

That area recently got new lighting as part of the Green Bay, Ridge, Emerson reconstruction project.

The city currently spends about $141,000 a year on electricity to keep the street lights on and another $140,000 a year on equipment and maintenance.

It doesn’t have a capital improvement plan to replace the existing lights.

About 4,200 street lights in the city are the traditional Tallmadge fixtures, which the report criticizes as “providing excessive horizontal light, in the form of a glare.”

Another 1,600 are davit-arm roadway-style light units.

The report says the condition of the 107 power centers and distribution system used to control the the lights “is very robust and will allow for some future expansion of the lighting systems.”

The first of several planned public meetings to discuss the street light master plan study is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28, in the Parasol Room at the Civic Center.

A notice from the Public Works Agency announcing the meeting says the project goals include addressing safety needs for all users of the transportation network, maintaining infrastructure aesthetics compatible with surrounding areas, curtailing light pollution and making the system cost effective and energy efficient.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Why so long to realize ?

    Don’t Council or any city employees go out after dark ? Anyone who does would realize that this has been a problem for years.  The only other reasons they could have missed this is they are in the pockets of the preservationist and have no concept of safety or fear of crimes.

  2. Observed problems

    Not only the horizonal glare mentioned in the report, but (1) loss of light upward from the tops of the Tallmadge lights and (2) the lack of tree trimming around lights such that the top of the pole where the light fixture is located is lost in the trees.

    In residential areas, perfect lighting for vehicle burglaries. But of course everyone leave their car doors unlocked, but that is a rant for another day.

  3. Idea about street lighting consultant

    Is it just me? Or does this feel like someone is looking for ways to spend yet more money that the City doesn’t have. Dismiss that consultant; thank him for his time and leave the lights alone. The last thing we need is yet more light. Certainly, the light levels along that stretch of Green Bay Road is ridiculous.

    I don’t disagree that the traditional lights shine out, but the glare/intensity of the lights on Green Bay is even worse.

    1. I’m with you!

      It seems like using standards created by the industry providing the solution is somewhat biased.

  4. What people say
    Many people say that if it wasn’t for the street lights, you could not tell it from Chicago. This an obvious insult on how Evanston has been changing physically over the last 30 years. There are people in Chicago that have never seen a shining star. I don’t want that to happen in Evanston.

    Several years ago, Evanston took over maintenance of Ridge from Cook County. Cook County was going to widen Ridge, take down some trees, and install the type of street lights that line Chicago main streets. The people living on Ridge complained about the tree removable and the much brighter lighting. The city listened to them. It has cost the city millions of dollars and the reason that Ridge has never been widened for safety.

    The worst of the reason that Evanston has poor lighting outdoors is the trees. Trimming the trees around the street lights and removing some trees will probably be able to meet some standards.

    1. Traffic signals

      A couple people on the Ridge Preservation board stopped the City from putting in overhead standards for traffic lights which the State of Illinois required (Ridge was a state road). The reason for these signals is obvious as the signals as they stand now are tree blocked. The signals that change the lights for emergency vehicles do not work properly without the overhead standards. The number of traffic crashes on Ridge could be greatly reduced by the proper signals which this group stopped and the city listened. The standards purchased for this project were the wrought iron standards placed at Central and Ridge. Now safety is reduced and the city has to pay all maintainance for a road the State paid. This group and the City should be ready to pay when the next crash is fatal and can be directly attributed to the blockage of the traffic signals by trees.

    2. What is Evanston?

      When I moved to Evanston from Albany Park over 30 years ago, the thing I remember most was how dark and cool it was.  Like a vacation when we crossed Howard Street.  Do not discount the value of the atmosphere of Evanston.

      I am a pedestrian.  I have learned that I need to be wary of every vehicle, 2 or 4 wheeled, day or night.  They are not looking for me, so I must look for them.  Laws do not matter.  Do our lives need to be constructed to accommodate cars?

    3. They should take a walk or bike ride
      Those who like the dark streets and probably still would if trees were trimmed, should go for a walk or bike ride on side streets when moon is least visible. Even better take a walk on some of the high crime streets.
      Judging lighting when driving your car or even worse when your chauffeur is driving you, is not a good test.

      1. A good illustration
        Saturday 5 PM [when people were going to the football game] all the street lights from Sheridan to Asbury and Central to Noyes [Sunday appears was to at least Foster were out. I mentioned this to a dozen people [not out of towners] plus a policeman not in his car and more than half did not realize it–the streets are always so dark. This has happened before where resident and even police out of their cars did not know there lights were out [again a very large area]. I called the police and they said they had got a few call but only for specific streets.
        Sunday AM lights still out. Does ComEd’s smart metering catch this ? I’ve seen in the summer with bright days, lights on for 48 hour straight even by city hall and the facilities on Lyons and none of them reported it. In fact I’m usually the first to report large outages even when after 48 hours.
        I think rural roads have better lighting then Evanston !

  5. The stretch of Green Bay

    >the stretch of Green Bay Road from Payne to Simpson streets. The study found the actual lighting level there, of 2.28 footcandles, exceeded the recommended level.

    This is the only actionable item I see.  We need to tone down the lights on Green Bay, which exceed the recommendation. 

    Other than that, it sounds like Evanston is in good shape, avoiding the overlighting prevalent in too many places.

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