Lawsuit: Some Of Detroit's New Streetlights Dimming, Burning Out

May 07, 2019 - 8:32 am

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Officials say some of Detroit's new LED streetlights are prematurely dimming and burning out in parts of the city and thousands more could fail.

A letter from the Public Lighting Authority's law firm, obtained by The Detroit News, says problems were discovered last fall with units made by San Jose, California-based Leotek Electronics USA that were "charred, burned, or cracked."

The lighting authority filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court, saying the failing lights put the city's revitalization progress "in jeopardy" and replacements will cost millions.

Leotek made about one-third of Detroit's new lights, which were expected to last at least a decade. The lighting authority paid $3.9 million to Leotek for 25,320 of the lights, according to the newspaper, and the installation cost was about $5.2 million. 

Leotek  acknowledged problems in a letter to the lighting authority in December, saying excessive heat can burn lenses on the lights. The company apologized and pledged to work with Detroit to correct problems, but the lighting authority alleges Leotek hasn't followed through on its word. 

In the meantime, the lighting authority has selected multiple firms to replace the broken lights. Installation is expected to start this summer. 

Most of the burned out lights are located in residential areas on the city's west side and along main thoroughfares, according to the newspaper. 

The last of Detroit's 65,000 new LED streetlights were installed in 2016 as part of a $185 million program that was hailed as a success in the city's turnaround efforts.

Fewer than half of the city's 88,000 streetlights were believed to be working before the efforts began in 2013.