Detroit eyes plan to half street lights as city shrinks


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In Detroit nearly half of the city's streetlights may go out as the city struggles to cope with broken finances and a shrinking population.

Detroit has 60 percent fewer residents than it did in the 1960s and about 40 percent of its 88,000 streetlights are broken. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing wants to create an authority that would borrow $160 million to upgrade and cut the number of streetlights to 46,000. The city would save about $10 million a year on maintenance and power, and the move would help push residents out of derelict semi-abandoned neighborhoods the city can no longer afford to provide services to.

Detroit is not the first city to go partially dark to save money. Colorado Springs, Santa Rosa, California, and Rockland, Illinois have also reduced the number of street lights to save money, as has Highland Park, a small city completely encircled by Detroit.

Since 1950, as auto-industry jobs have disappeared, Detroit's population has shrunk from nearly 1.85 million to 713,000. About 20 of the city's neighborhoods — areas at least a square mile in size — are 10 to 20 percent occupied. Detroit is dealing with a $265 million deficit and has more than $12 billion in long-term debt.

"You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population," Detroit's chief operating officer said in an interview. "We're not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas."

What do you think, should it be lights out for the Motor City?
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