LeDuff report: Detroit's lighting system problems are shocking

LeDuff report: Detroit's lighting system problems are shocking

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A familiar site around the city of Detroit. A familiar site around the city of Detroit.
The city's public lighting grid, seen here on a map, complete with pushpins. The city's public lighting grid, seen here on a map, complete with pushpins.
Detroit's Public Lighting Commission building Detroit's Public Lighting Commission building

By: Charlie LeDuff
FOX 2 News

DETROIT (WJBK) - Detroit street lights don't work like they do in most other American cities. They don't come on by a timer or solar sensors. That's right - they come on by hand. That is, if they come on at all.

Detroit: old and broken.

The fact is, almost half of the street lights in Detroit don't work, and nobody knows that better than you, Detroit.

Why in a major American city, doesn't something as basic as public lighting work? We took a trip to the Lighting Department to find out why.

What we found there was shocking: peeling paint, dirty floors and empty offices. It looked like a neutron bomb went off in 1959.

VIDEO: Click on the video player above to watch Fox 2's Charlie LeDuff's visit to the Lighting Dept.

Here are some of his findings:

 -- The last time the system was mapped was using a 60s-style board with pins and yarn.

-- Zero dollars have been invested in upgrades in the last 40 years.

-- Nine employees remain, after cuts, to fix the 88,000 lights and 1,400 miles of electric line.

LeDuff spoke with newly-appointed director Odis Jones who says changes are coming.

"It's going to require us to do some significant, underground engineering design work, and that could take anywhere between four to six months. In the meantime, there are other work that could be done, today, now, and that's what we're going to start doing this Friday. We're going to start fixing those things we can fix now, designing those things that need to be designed, and in three years we're going to be done."

UPDATE: NEW YORK CREDITOR WANTS TO HOLD OFF ANY LIGHTING IMPROVEMENTS UNTIL THEY GET PAID FIRST.   

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