Residents charged up about DC’s move to LED streetlights

WASHINGTON — D.C. is about to follow other cities, including Arlington, in replacing incandescent street lighting with LED lights — a decision that’s getting a lot of reaction from residents.

Speaking for her 16th Street neighbors, D.C. resident Cecelia Waldeck expressed how many residents feel about the change to LED lights.

“The prospect the city wants to replace lower-intensity … lights with LED lights deeply concerns me and my neighbors,” Waldeck said Wednesday during her testimony to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

D.C. Department of Transportation director Leif Dormsjo told the committee that he understands street lighting is contentious, but said there’s more control with LED lights — including the ability to dim them and prevent up-lighting into bedroom windows.

“We can bend the light even without shields, and then we also have the shielding option,” Dormsjo said.

He testified that the city is considering both the 3000- and 4000-Kelvin color-temperature LED lights. During his presentation, he said Arlington uses 5500-Kelvin LED bulbs countywide, while Seattle, Philadelphia and Los Angeles use 4000-Kelvin bulbs.

“We’re taking LED applications and we’re making sure they fit in the historic context and character in some of our historic neighborhoods,” Dormsjo said.

The places where the city is testing the bulbs:

  • Mount Pleasant Street from Columbia Road to Park Road Northwest (historic district)
  • Massachusetts Avenue from 6th Street Northeast to 19th Street Southeast (historic district)
  • Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, from 2nd Street to Barney Circle

“We’ve taken those through the historic preservation process, so we can adjust that light and direct that light in an LED in a way we can’t with a conventional light. And we’re able to reduce the backlight and up-light,” he said.

Committee chair Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), looking at reports from some cities which purchased and installed LED lights and then had to replace them, said she wants to avoid a “do-over” and wants residents to be happy with the results. She asked DDOT to consider working with residents and the Department of Energy on the lighting installed in sensitive areas.

Dormsjo agreed with Cheh to welcome citizen input during the testing period over the next 6 to 9 months.


Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up