ODOT Starts Major Conversion to LED Lighting in Portland


In May, ODOT began converting streetlights to LEDs to reduce emissions, saving taxpayers over $700,000 per year

PORTLAND – Everyone likes talking about projects that save money, save energy and reduce carbon emissions. And that’s exactly what ODOT is doing by installing new light-emitting diode, or LED, light fixtures in ODOT’s Highway Region 1, the Portland metro area.

In May, crews began converting more than 8,000 high-pressure sodium streetlights to LED. The change should reduce ODOT’s energy bill for street lighting in the Portland area by half, saving taxpayers $700,000 to $800,000 a year. In addition, it will lower carbon emissions by an estimated 3,500 tons a year because of the reduced energy use.

LED lights last longer, too, so with maintenance crews will spend less time replacing high-pressure sodium lights – freeing up more time to spend on other projects.

“We’re very excited to get this project under way because it will reduce carbon emissions, save taxpayer money and improve safety for our maintenance staff,” sad Rian Windsheimer, ODOT Region 1 manager. “This project is a win across the board.”

Work will continue intermittently through the summer of 2021. Most replacements take place at night to minimize traffic impacts; some shoulder or single lane closures will occur. There will also be some multiple-lane night closures in tunnels and night closures of single lane on-ramps and off-ramps.

Potential for more savings

Depending on the outcome of the effort in Region 1, ODOT may make additional LED conversions in other areas around the state.

Most high-pressure sodium lights today require maintenance every two to four years but the new LED fixtures need replacing every 15 to 20 years. The longer lifecycle for each LED fixture also means less disruption to traffic created when maintenance workers replace lights.

The work will take place on ODOT roads, including interstates, U.S. highways and state highways in Clackamas, Hood River and Multnomah counties and eastern Washington County.

New fixtures are also planned for both the Glenn Jackson and Interstate bridges.

Most of the new LED lights will have a color temperature of 3,000 Kelvin and will not shine any light above the fixtures. This new lighting is considered dark-sky friendly.

A few locations, including tunnels, will use 4,000 Kelvin fixtures. A majority of bicycle and pedestrian pathway lighting will use 2,700 Kelvin fixtures. ODOT’s Portland area historian, Bob Hadlow, is helping with the project to ensure the new LED fixtures maintain historical lighting styles while meeting new requirements.

Watch a story on the project, by Julie Murray of ODOT, including interviews with Region 1 Maintenance and Operations Manager Ted Miller and Climate Office Manager Amanda Pietz. For more information, including maps and FAQs, visit the project website.

About Author

Don Hamilton is a public information officer with the Oregon Department of Transportation.

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