How many people does it take to install 44,000 LEDs across Denver? We will eventually know the answer.

The city plans to make the brighter and more efficient lights ubiquitous, and it started today.
2 min. read
Evening over the 16th Street Mall. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Edison bulbs are so last century.

On Tuesday, Denver Public Works replaced the first of 44,000 light bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to begin a citywide overhaul that will make the brighter, more efficient streetlamps ubiquitous.

The city will start with Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard, two of Denver's deadliest streets for people who walk, bike and drive.

"This conversion to LED streets lights is the next big step in Denver's commitment to energy conservation and work to address climate change at the local level," Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. "At the same time, by more effectively illuminating Denver's sidewalks and roadways, we're also helping people who drive, walk and bike feel safer as they move about town."

The overhaul's first phase will take about a year to complete. After that, the city will move west to east across town over the course of three more phases:

  • Phase 1: Colfax Avenue and Federal Boulevard
  • Phase 2: West Denver, from the South Platte River to the county line
  • Phase 3: Central Denver, between the South Platte River and Colorado Boulevard
  • Phase 4: East Denver, from Colorado Boulevard to the county line

It will cost taxpayers $1.6 million up front to change 44,000 light bulbs, but the city will recoup the cost after about two years because of energy savings. Electricity use will decrease by 4 to 7 percent, according to DPW, or an estimated $850,000 a year.

Aside from traffic safety, the city says LEDs reduce light pollution and can reduce neighborhood crime.

"We're excited to be taking another step toward our Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on our roadways by increasing visibility on our streets," said DPW Executive Director Eulois Cleckley. "By making these enhancements, we further create and promote a culture of safety in Denver that we hope everyone living, working and playing here will embrace."

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