“Have you ever noticed,” the email from Rachel La Brasseur asked on Nov. 11, “how dark it is at night at Grand Prairie and Geary Street, a pretty major intersection in South Albany?”
I hadn’t, so a few days later I went to take a look. The photo above was one of the results.
“I don’t know why exactly, maybe it’s just the seasons changing, but it’s almost impossible to see anyone crossing in the crosswalk after it gets dark. That crosswalk is used by a lot of various people. Kids, seniors, dog walkers, etc. I turn there daily on my way home from work and I wish there was at least a brighter street light there.”
Here’s another shot, looking at the crosswalk from Geary, without a vehicle providing helpful headlights:
How did Albany end up with a junction of two major roads without even a streetlight over the top of it? Hard to say. There’s an overhead lamp some 20 or 30 feet south on Geary, but the light doesn’t reach the junction, let alone the crosswalk.
I checked with Ron Irish at City Hall. He’s the city’s transportation systems analyst and the man to ask about streets and traffic.
He reminded me that Albany used to pay for street lights with revenue from franchise fees, but during a budget crunch some years ago that revenue was diverted to the general fund, and the cost of lighting streets fell to the street fund. Since then, the city has generally said no to requests for “infill” lights, the cost of which apparently can be substantial.
But this is a crosswalk at the junction of two arterial streets with substantial traffic, and Irish ran the question past Staci Belcastro, the city engineer.
“She’s asked one of our engineers to look into what the installation and on-going costs would be to add a light there,” he wrote Monday. “Once we have that info we’ll check with our Street Maintenance Department (they are the ones paying the street light bill) and then make a decision about whether to proceed to installation or not.”
If the decision is to go ahead, Irish thinks it may take some time to get an estimate from Pacific Power. “Every installation is different in terms of what it takes to provide service and the associated installation cost.”
Assuming, or hoping, that eventually the city and the power company can agree on a solution — meaning a light bright enough to do some good — people using that junction on winter evenings can thank Ms. La Brasseur for raising the issue and trying to get something done. (hh)