New street lights in Burlington to improve safety

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- About twice a day, Peggy Karper goes for a walk near her home on Gilmer Street.

“I like to be able to see where I'm going and that no one's in the street,” Karper said.

It’s something she didn't feel safe doing at night for the two years she's lived on the block.

“You could just see figures,” she said. “You really couldn't see people. It wasn't as bright as it is now.”

A few months ago, several new LED lights were put in nearby on Ireland Street.

“You're able to see a lot better than you could before,” Karper said.

It’s lighting city traffic engineer Jason Geary says that's about to be installed in neighborhoods all over Burlington.

“We just decided to do a whole city-wide initiative,” Geary said.

Starting next week, about 2,700 older street lights will be switched out for newer and brighter LEDs.

“A little brighter, provides a wider cleaner light,” Geary said.

It’s a change the city hopes will cut costs but also make people feel safer and help prevent crime.

“It helps us to be able to see,” said Lt. Mark Yancey, of the Burlington Police Department. “It helps the citizens in the community to be able to see.”

Some of the lights have already been installed in high-crime areas like Ireland Street, which police say has had issues with prostitution and drugs.

“That lighting is one of those things that changes the dynamics,” Yancey said.

Street lights on major roads won't be changed under the project expected to cost the city $45,000, according to Geary.

But neighbors like Karper say it's money well-spent for the peace of mind she now feels.

“The more light, the safer you'll feel,” Karper said.

The lighting project is expected to be completed by June. ​

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