Street/Alley Lighting

Contact: Commissioner Maydak

The ANC Lighting Task Force was formed in January of 2014, as a result the community’s objection to new LED lights that were installed in three alleyways within our ANC boundaries.   Neighbors residing adjacent to the alleyways expressed great concern regarding the excessive brightness,  harshness (blue-white color) and light trespass (lights shining onto and into their homes) of the new LED lights.

The alleyways are located on both sides of Quesada Street NW between 32nd Street NW and Broad Branch Road NW (the exception is the alleyway that abuts Lafayette Park between 33rd Street NW and Broad Branch Rd. NW).

A little background:

In 2011, DDOT released a Request For Product (RFP) for the repair and maintenance of all the city’s street lights.  Included in the RFP was a requirement to convert thousands of DC street lights to LED fixtures. LED streetlights hold great promise for reducing energy use but the specifications, or lack thereof, in the RFP could exacerbates light pollution and harm the health of District residents.

As a result of legal challenges, the contract still has not been awarded.  DDOT is revising this document to try to award this contract to one of the two successful bidders. Unfortunately, there are still major problems with the RFP and the citizens of DC need to make their voices heard now, before it is too late.

The specified light levels called for in the RFP are excessively bright. LED lights that are too bright will waste energy and contribute to light pollution in our neighborhoods. Brighter lights do not necessarily make for a safer environment. Lights that are too bright produce glare making it more difficult to see and be seen.

The specifications in the RFP do not address the color and temperature of the LED lights. LED light, rich in the blue portion of the white light spectrum, have been linked to cancer. Newer technologies have produced warmer colored LED lights that emit less radiation, less glare, and are closer in visual temperature to the amber-hued street lights that we are accustomed to.

Specified light levels need to be revised downward in the RFP to allow vendors and neighbors to customize the light levels for their particular application.

In addition, there is not a requirement that all streetlight fixtures be fully shielded; that is, light fixtures which would only direct light downward and prevent light trespass into the sky, and horizontally into houses and apartments.

DDOT is working with the community to identify appropriate LED lighting for the alleyway pilot.   DDOT is also working with the community on the lighting for the Reconstruction of Oregon Avenue Project slated to begin in 2016.   Oregon Avenue NW abuts Rock Creek Park.

Specified light levels need to be revised downward in the RFP to allow vendors and neighbors to customize the light levels for their particular application.

The Lighting Task Force is working with The International Dark Sky Association (IDA.org) on this issue. IDA is an organization that is dedicated to protecting the night sky from light trespass. They are an authority on using appropriate levels of light. The residents of the District of Columbia should demand that the DDOT consult with IDA to develop specifications that will better serve our neighborhoods.

Let’s get it right this time!

Currently the Task Force is working on the following projects:

  •  Quesada Street NW alley pilot,
  •  Lafayette Park and Lafayette Elementary School lighting
  •  Oregon Avenue Street light pilot

All Lighting Task Force Meetings are open to the public and will be posted on the ANC website calendar, the Chevy Chase   Listserv, sent to the Lighting Task Force email list and when possible posted in the “Week Ahead” section of the NW Current newspaper.   If you would like to be added to the Lighting Task Force email list, please contact Commissioner Rebecca Maydak – rmaydak@earthlinknet

 

IDA Letter to DDOT 3-2-15

LED History in DC