Elderly Detroiters concerned about dark alley

Posted at 5:33 PM, Dec 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 17:33:28-05

Non-working street lights have plunged a Detroit alley into darkness, creating fear for some elderly residents.

JoAnn Lester is worried for not only her own safety, but also the safety of her neighbors - neighbors who have lived on the east side block for generations. 

"We are all original neighbors and have lived here since the 50s." Lester told 7 Action News. "We keep it clean.  The houses that are vacant, we cut the grass and shovel the snow."

What they can't do for themselves is light up the night sky. 

While Detroit's new Public Lighting Authority is installing new LED lights across the city, they are not being replaced in the alleyways. 

Watch Ronnie Dahl's full report on 7 Action News at 5 pm.

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Kelsey Hartung, spokesperson of the Public Lighting Authority issued the following statement:

Since we began operations, the Public Lighting Authority’s plan has been not to install street lights in city alleys. However, there is one exception to that rule – if the only access to houses on a residential block is via the alleyway.

This site in the alley has been reviewed and installation of a new light was approved on November 17. Once a new light is approved, the PLA works with DTE to redesign the electrical feed points and lighting controls in the alleyway. In this case, the old electrical feeder system within this alleyway has been completely decayed and is no longer adequate for use. Our engineers have completed the design for this location and the lighting within this alleyway has been assigned to a contractor for construction. It will be installed and will be in operation by the end of this year, as promised.

Prior to the Public Lighting Authority, across the city’s 140 square miles, the lighting system has not been operational for decades. The Public Lighting Authority is rebuilding the street lighting grid and has added more than 58,000 new LED street lights within the last 18 months, which represents more operational street lights in the City of Detroit since 1980.