In 1997, voters approved General Obligation Bonds to upgrade and expand the street light system to raise the level of illumination on streets and sidewalks and to enhance personal safety and security. At the time, there were 48,000 street lights in service. Phase I of the lighting system improvements, financed by the bonds, in the portions of the City served by Kansas City Power and Light Company is complete. Phase I upgraded 40,000 existing lights and added 29,500 new lights to the system representing a $88.5 million investment in basic infrastructure that serves about 85 percent of the city. Since 1997, new development and other capital projects also added lights resulting in 81,000 units in service as of December 2002.
In September of 2002, the survey and design process for upgrading the remaining lights in suburban portions of the City began. These areas are currently served by Aquila (formerly Missouri Public Service Co). To meet recommended illumination criteria for this area, 3,000 new units may need to be installed, and 3,000 existing units may require retrofitting.
As of May 2006, 209 lights were designed and constructed in the eastern section of City limits through Capital Improvement funds. Phase II work is being coordinated through the Capital Improvement Management Office and is being financed with the annual Capital Improvement allocations from the G.O. bonds.
The modernization program relocates lights to produce uniform spacing and eliminate dark spots. In typical residential streets, lights are spaced at approximately 160 foot intervals. Old mercury vapor fixtures and lamps are replaced with energy efficient high pressure sodium fixtures and lamps. Where necessary, to raise lighting levels to that recommended by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, additional poles and lights are installed. New or in-fill lighting added will match the style of lights currently in the adjacent area.
Concurrent with street light upgrades, trees on the public right-of-way are trimmed by City employees or through a contract administered by the Parks and Recreation Department's city forester. For information on tree trimming related to the street lights or other issues related to street trees, call the city forester at 816-513-9550.