Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa to add 8,400 street lights in the next five years

TAMPA — Nearly a year after a young mother was killed as she pushed a stroller down a dark East Tampa street, Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Tuesday announced an initiative to add 8,400 new streetlights in the city over the next five years.

Tampa officials plan to spend $2.2 million, increasing the total number of streetlights nearly 30 percent above the current total of 30,000.

Buckhorn's "Bright Lights, Safe Nights" program takes on a problem that outraged residents after the death of Monica Alvarez. It also addresses one of the 34 campaign promises tracked by the Buck-O-Meter, a project of PolitiFact Florida, the political fact-checking arm of the Tampa Bay Times.

During his run for mayor, Buckhorn promised to work with Tampa Electric Co. to conduct a citywide lighting assessment to determine where streetlights need to be updated, repaired or replaced.

As part of the new program, announced jointly with TECO, the city's transportation division will conduct an annual citywide inventory of streetlights. Lights that are dim will be replaced. Tree branches that block lights will be trimmed.

New lights will be installed starting in January and will be targeted in areas that have higher rates of crime and car crashes, as well as in the city's designated community redevelopment areas: East Tampa, Ybor City, Tampa Heights, Drew Park, Central Park, the Channel District and downtown.

Buckhorn announced the program about a mile from the East Tampa street where Alvarez, 27 and six months pregnant, was struck from behind by a car as she and a friend pushed their baby girls in strollers down a darkened 43rd Street near Hillsborough Avenue. Her son Angel was delivered prematurely by emergency caesarean section, but he lived less than an hour.

After the accident, TECO put a new light on an existing pole and city officials worked to add sidewalks to 43rd Street.

"We've had a number of pedestrian fatalities that have occurred at intersections and on streets in our community where perhaps the lights could have been stronger, the lights could have been brighter, or there could have been more lights," Buckhorn said. "Those young moms who are walking on our sidewalks and crossing our streets will now have streets that are well-lit, that are safer, so we won't have to read stories about those fatalities."

East Tampa community leaders welcomed the program, saying it would make the area safer.

"It's going to create neighborhoods where our elderly people can feel free to walk, even at night," said the Rev. T.W. Jenkins, pastor of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

That's the idea, Buckhorn said.

"When you light up a community, you deter the criminal element from hanging out on the corners, from selling drugs," he said. "When we turn the lights on them, they're going to run, and (the Tampa Police Department) is going to be following them."

When East Tampa neighborhoods ranked their priorities several years ago, "the majority of reports that we received came back saying, 'We want improved street lighting,' " said City Council member Frank Reddick, who represents the area.

"You just don't know how much this means to these neighborhoods," he said. "It means a lot when you can stand outside on a cool night and not be frightened."

As a candidate, Buckhorn promised to work with TECO to complete a citywide assessment to determine where lights need to be repaired or replaced. With the "Bright Lights, Safe Nights" initiative, that assessment will take place, and the city will spend $2.2 million over the next five years to eliminate dark pockets in the city. We rate this Promise Kept.

>>

To report a broken streetlight

Go to tampaelectric.com, then click on "Public Safety," then on "Streetlight Out" under "Report a Problem," or call (813) 223-0800.

Tampa to add 8,400 street lights in the next five years 10/23/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 11:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Security threat leads Florida to cancel prison visitation

    Crime

    TALLAHASSEE — Prison officials in Florida cited a security threat in canceling visitation at all of its 149 facilities.

  2. Steve Bannon says rivals 'wetting themselves,' calls supremacists 'clowns,' seems to contradict Trump on North Korea

    National

    Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist, seemed to take issue with President Donald Trump on North Korea, attacked white supremacists as "clowns" and "losers" and described his efforts against administration rivals in an unusual interview Wednesday with the American Prospect, a progressive magazine.

    White House chief strategist Steve Bannon steps off Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in April. In an unusual interview Wednesday with The American Prospect, a progressive magazine, Bannon attacked white supremacists as "clowns" and "losers" and described his efforts against administration rivals saying "They're wetting themselves." [Associated Press]
  3. Why are so few Tampa Bay houses for sale? They're being rented

    Real Estate

    Oreste Mesa Jr. owns a modest 40-year-old house in West Tampa just off MacDill Avenue. It's an area where many homeowners are hearing the siren song of builders and cashing out while the market is strong.

    Attorney David Eaton poses in front of his rental home at 899 72nd Ave. North. in St. Petersburg. He's among a growing number of property owners who see more value in renting out unused homes than selling them. 
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. In a word, Hernando school leaders say, first day was 'smooth'

    K12

    Over and over on Monday, school district leaders used the same word to describe the unfolding of the first day of school in Hernando County.

    "Smooth."

    Third-graders Teagan Ferguson, left, and Brianna DeLaine deliver attendance figures to the office at J.D. Floyd Elementary School on Monday. Superintendent Lori Romano and other district administrators toured a handful of schools and classrooms throughout the day,
  5. Looking Back: Diana, America's Favorite Princess

    Celebrities

    The Washington Post, in her obituary, called her "the most photographed woman in the world." She was loved in England for saying, after her divorce from Prince Charles, "I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts." Americans loved her for her work with charitable causes supporting victims of AIDS and landmines. Aug. 31 …

    Prince Charles and Princess Diana on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day.

(AP Photo)