WHY IS ABQ GETTING DARKER BY THE DAY? That question comes from David Vogel, who says in a recent email, “I’ve been noticing the steady erosion of the city’s ability to maintain the street lights in our community.”
Among many outages spotted on his informal street light inventory, David cites:
• “During a drive heading west on Central Avenue from Tramway to University one night recently, I counted at least 109 street lights that were out of order. Sometimes an entire block or two had no lights on either side of the street. Even many of the new lights that were installed with the ART project are no longer working.”
• “I also noticed that the neon archway over Central Avenue in Nob Hill was mostly out of order.”
David says, “This is not a new phenomenon. It’s a problem that has been steadily getting worse over the last two years, despite calls to the city hot line and being assured the problem would be resolved. The common response from the responsible department is that many of the city’s street lights are maintained by an outside contractor, seeming to suggest that the problem is not the city’s responsibility. Of course that certainly is not the case. … This is a critical safety issue for both pedestrians and drivers that the folks at City Hall do not seem to be taking seriously, despite the problem being called to their attention for some time. The dark streets also provide the perfect petri-dish environment for breeding crime.”
CITY AND PNM WORKING TO BRIGHTEN THINGS UP: For answers we turn to the light experts at Public Service Company of New Mexico. Sara Yingling, who handles corporate communications, says some of the lights are out because they are being converted to LED, others are not being repaired because they are being replaced, and still others were vandalized or simply went out, and crews are in the process of getting them back on. But she emphasizes “the city of Albuquerque and PNM work diligently together to keep the street lights in Albuquerque operating properly.
• “The street lights on Central Avenue are partly owned by the city of Albuquerque and partly owned by PNM. The street lights from Louisiana Boulevard west to Coors Boulevard along Central are owned by the city. Approximately 900 street lights on this stretch of Central are in the process of being converted to LED. These street lights were not in the original conversion inventory because street light poles were being replaced during the ART project and many street lights were added. Citelum is now in the process of adding LED fixtures to all 900 street lights starting at Coors and going east to Louisiana. We have converted approximately 100 lights so far and will finish this project by early spring. In the meantime, we are not repairing any street lights in that group that are out in order to maximize resources and move more quickly on the conversion.
“As for Louisiana to Tramway, PNM does maintain these lights. We have had a few of them reported out recently. When a PNM crew was sent to repair them, the crew reported some had been vandalized and the base covers and some of the connections that powered the lights were missing. PNM crews repaired the connections, but for some reason the vandals have targeted the base covers repeatedly. We haven’t had much of the wire stolen recently, just the connections and the base covers.”
• “The Nob Hill Arch at Girard center-section neon has malfunctioned and (the city’s) Department of Municipal Development has notified the city’s Public Art Program. They are in the process of working with a local company to have the neon repaired.”
And while Yingling says “Citelum and DMD routinely patrol the city in search of street lights that have failed,” she adds that often “PNM does not know if a streetlight is out unless customers report them.”
And so if, like David, things seems extra dark to you, you can report a street light outage to the city by calling 311 or using the One ABQ app, or to PNM by logging on to www.pnm.com/streetlights, calling 888-DIAL-PNM (1-888-342-5766) or chatting live with a customer service representative on the PNM website.
And for all reports, Yingling advises “it is especially helpful to have an exact address to pinpoint the light or at least be as specific as possible.”
Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; firstname.lastname@example.org; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.