The city of Victoria is getting brighter, one LED streetlight at a time. The new lighting will benefit every part of the city for many years to come.

The city has partnered with American Electric Power to install LED streetlights throughout the city. By the end of the project at the end of the year all 4,052 high-pressure sodium streetlights will have been replaced.

Good bright lights in public areas are essential to the public’s safety.

Law enforcement has long told people to stay in well lighted areas if they are out after dark.

We are also told to park in lighted areas and to be aware of our surroundings.

Many parts of Victoria have long been too dark for residents to want to go outside after the sun goes down because they feared for their safety.

Soon that darkness will ease because the lights are more powerful than the old bulbs, illuminating larger areas as it enlightens in just one direction, down onto the street, instead of diffusing light in all directions like the old sulfur ones.

The new lighting is expected to help slow down crime as well as help residents to better see suspicious activity and report it to police.

It will also help residents feel safer in their own homes and neighborhoods.

The city was wise to start the project on the southside of Victoria — an area that is historically underserved and low income. Its streets are dark from little to no lights. The project started last year in Queen City and North Heights neighborhoods.

In addition to lasting longer than the older lights, the LED lights are expected to save the city money in replacement and electricity required to operate. The lights typically last 15-30 years.

The initial outlay of money to do the project — about $555,000 — will be made up many times in that time.

Critics of LED lights say the lights contain blue lights which studies have shown can harm a person’s eyes if exposed to it over a long period of time.

Blue light occurs naturally in rays from the sun. It also occurs in the use of electronic devices.

People can control possible damage by monitoring their exposure to blue light, by wearing sunglasses when outdoors during the day and controlling their use of electronic devices.

The benefits the lights will provide the neighborhoods throughout the city outweighs the health concerns of something that can be controlled and monitored individually.

As the project progresses across the city, a popular saying from a well-known hotel chain comes to mind – “we’ll leave the light on for you.” Only this time it’s the city saying it and the light is in your neighborhood.

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This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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