The purpose of the lighting is to increase both safety and usability of the path for both the recreational and transportation users during hours of darkness. The project limits are from Breese Terrace to the Beltline Highway. The Southwest Path already has lighting South of the Beltline. North of the Beltline there is currently lighting in only in a small number of selected locations.
The City proposes to install 20 foot tall black anodized poles with LED light fixtures at a varying spacing of 190 to 240 feet. These light fixtures are full "cutoff" fixtures, meaning they focus the light downward toward the path and limit up lighting. With rapidly advancing LED technology, fixtures are now available with superior characteristics than those used previously. LEDs provide a white light for better recognition and the lighting pattern of the fixtures is configured to distribute light along the path and minimize undesirable light spilling out transversely across the path.
To test the new fixtures, the City has installed two LED fixtures on the path at its intersection with Council Crest. These test fixtures are the LED fixtures that are proposed for lighting the path. People interested are encouraged to visit this location after dark to review the light output and the light patterns the fixtures provide. As noted, LEDs provide a white light which can seem bright if you stand underneath and look up into the fixture. It is recommended people review the test lights as a typical path user or resident i.e. not staring into the light itself but passing along and enjoying the path or standing at the distance from which they would normally encounter the light.
Southwest Commuter Trail at Council Crest comparison of lighting with 122 watt high pressure sodium light fixture (shown on photos below on the left) to lighting with test 53 watt LED light fixture (photos below on the right) installed August 18, 2011:
Photos taken looking down the path northeast of the light pole.
Photos taken looking down the path southwest of the light pole.
The City welcomes any comments you may have related to this project.
The Pedestrian / Bicycle / Motor Vehicle Commission will be taking up this item at their city committee meeting on:
Monday, December 10th at 5:00 p.m.
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
City-County Building Room 201 (Council Chambers)
See meeting agenda
This will be a city commission meeting, not be a public hearing; members of the public may register to speak on the item. Please see meeting agenda for additional details.
Update: November 9, 2012
• Letter to Property Owners and Southwest Path Neighbors
On November 28, there will be a Public Hearing before joint meeting of City's Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission and the City Board of Public Works.
• Resolution 28101:
Approving plans and specifications for public improvements necessary for the project known as Southwest Path Lighting.
Update: July 25, 2012
Southwest Commuter Path Proposed Lighting Project Presentation at Edgewood College, on July 19, 2012 (PDF)
Update: June 11, 2012
As a result of feedback and concerns received, a new light fixture is proposed for consideration. This new fixture produces a warmer, less blue light. It also emits less light and is therefore less bright. Staff also outfitted the fixture with a baffle, which will reduce light trespass even further, and reduce light spilling off and down the path embankment. The baffle should also reduce glare to those properties and back yards that are sited below the path-- for example on Gregory St. between Glenway and Sheldon.
A sample of this light fixture will be installed on the Southwest path between Glenway and Sheldon St. This work will be completed the week of June 18th, 2012. At the same time, City electricians will also swap out the old LED test fixtures and install the new sample fixtures on the two existing test poles at Council Crest. People are encouraged to visit these locations and view the fixtures and light output.
Staff and alders have also met to discuss other policy issues that were brought up at the December meeting and in subsequent communications with the city.
To discuss the new fixture, other policy issues, and next steps, a neighborhood meeting is being scheduled for Thursday, July 19, 2012 from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Anderson Auditorium of the Predolin Humanities Building at Edgewood College.
Update: April 26, 2012
Before, during and after the Public Information meeting in December, we received a number of comments and suggestions about the lighting issue. We have received a great deal of supportive comments and many in opposition as well. Most of the major opponents come from nearby residents who have legitimate concerns about the quality of light, the type and brightness of lighting, and any spillover effects. As promised during the meeting, all of these comments were taken into consideration and Traffic Engineering staff and alders started looking into alternatives. Since then Traffic Engineering has been working with the lighting industry to find an LED fixture that produces a warmer, more natural color of light, with less light "spillover".
We recently obtained a new fixture that shows promise. It produces a warmer, more natural color of light and we have also custom-designed a louver system for the fixture that further directs light where it is wanted and cuts off undesirable light behind the fixtures where there are residences. We have been testing the fixtures at our facility and made measurements of the light intensity and distribution, with and without the louvers. The warmer colored LED produces approximately 25% less light intensity than the current test fixtures and the louvered model does an excellent job of reducing undesirable light behind the fixtures.
The next step for us is that City Engineering and Traffic Engineering staff plan to meet with all four Alders whose districts are affected by the lighting proposal. We will review the comments to date as well as the new light fixture, and then will communicate the results of that meeting to neighbors and Neighborhood Associations via our website at:
Following that, we'll work with alders to schedule a second neighborhood conversation on this topic.
Update: Winter 2011
A Public Information Meeting was held on 12/12/11. It was attended by approximately 50 neighbors and other interested citizens. City staff did a presentation on the Southwest Commuter Trail Proposed Lighting Project (pdf)