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Glad you asked: Why not get bulbs that burn brighter for Grand Forks street lights?

Neighborhoods that desire additional lighting can participate in a petition process.

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Q: Since the city of Grand Forks replaced older bulbs in the street lights with LED bulbs, residential streets and sidewalks have never been darker. Has the city considered using bulbs that would disperse light better?

According to David Kuharenko, assistant city engineer, that's a typical question around this time of year.

"Part of the reason is because the sun sets earlier in the day and the leaves haven’t all fallen yet, which blocks some of the light coming from the street lights. The streets will appear brighter in the next month or so. This is because less light will be blocked by tree leaves and the snow on the ground will help reflect some of the light," he said.

Kuharenko said the city began installing LED lights on Grand Forks' new street lighting projects in approximately 2014. Typically, the LED fixtures actually provide more light compared to the older high-pressure sodium fixtures, he said.

One of the biggest differences between the HPS and LED fixtures is the change in the light color temperature. LED lights have more of a white light, he said, and HPS fixtures have more of a yellow-tinted light.

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"Combining the change from yellow light to white light and increasing the amount of light leads to a higher contrast between the lighted area and the surrounding darkness, which can make some areas appear differently," he said.

And, Kuharenko reports, some parts of Grand Forks just have minimal street lighting.

"These street lights are typically located on wooden poles and are commonly located at block corners," he said. "These poles are owned and maintained by Xcel Energy. Back in about 2016, Xcel upgraded these fixtures from HPS to an equivalent LED fixture. Similar to the city-owned street lights, the color temperature changed from a yellow light to a white light."

Neighborhoods that desire additional lighting can participate in a petition process. But, Kuharenko said, street lighting projects are special assessed.

"So before we start a project, we want to make sure that there is neighborhood support for it," he said. "If anyone has any questions on the process or wants to get started on getting additional street lighting brought to their neighborhood, I would be happy to help."

He can be reached via his office phone at 701-746-2649.

Glad You Asked is a segment in the Grand Forks Herald. Do you have a locally interesting question you'd like answered? Submit it to letters@gfherald.com and we'll consider it. Be sure to put "Glad You Asked" in the subject line.

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