Harlingen uses new lighting to reduce auto-pedestrian accidents

Harlingen's newest project comes after pedestrians were hit crossing some major Harlingen streets within the past couple years.

Drivers and pedestrians going down some of Harlingen’s busiest roads, will soon see them better lit at night and will cost the city less.

The city of Harlingen says that they were approached by American Electric Power (AEP), the local electricity provider. AEP has offered the city the opportunity to change out nearly 400 old bulbs on city light posts with new LED bulbs for a reduced cost of nearly $25,000. AEP will be helping with the installation. The electric utility provider wants to compare how much the old bulbs consume versus the LED lights.

"It uses or consumes about anywhere between 25 to 30 percent less electricity," says Carlos Sánchez, Harlingen’s assistant city manager.

The project is expected to be completed over phases with Jackson Street, Tyler and Harrison being the first ones. The city adds it’s not just the money being saved, but also potential lives.

The city says this project comes at a good time after pedestrians were hit crossing some major Harlingen streets within the past couple years.

Harlingen police tells CBS 4 they receive hundreds of calls on auto-pedestrian accidents every year, but couldn't provide an exact number on those that have happened on busy roads.

"Late last year and even early this year, we've had incidents with pedestrian-auto accidents," Sánchez said.

In December 2017, a teenage girl was struck by a vehicle while crossing Sunshine Strip to get to the Lighting of the Arroyo. The teenager's mother spoke with CBS 4 at the time.

"The vehicle on the left side didn't stop and before my daughter knew it, she turned and that's when the vehicle struck her," said Jessica Rivera, mother of the victim.

Rivera’s daughter was hospitalized with a broken arm and wrist.

The city says that for new lighting to be installed on Sunshine Strip, it would have to wait until phase two when city commissioners approve its funding.

But starting this month, drivers should see a new white light coming from the nearly 300 light posts on Harrison, Tyler and Jackson.

The city of Harlingen says the first phase to replace the old street lights with new led lights will be completed within 6 to 8 weeks.

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