The switch has been flipped on for many of the 129 street lights and traffic signals at the Broad Street intersections between Fifth and 12th streets, said Steve Cassell, the traffic engineer for the city. The project should be done by Dec. 15, but the contractor still needs to inspect the lights and demount the old poles.
“It was an old system that was inadequate. Downtown was a dark area. They didn’t light the sidewalks,” he said.
The $2.7 million federally funded project should brighten sidewalks and sunken parking wells with new light poles that each have two lights: one high above the street and a second closer to the sidewalk. Sections of lights, each controlled by separate circuits, were turned on gradually over the past two weeks.
“There’s going to be some overlap. Right now, we have two systems running at the same time,” Cassell said.
Repairing sidewalks on Broad Street will continue throughout December, he said. Crews had to break up portions of sidewalks during the project to lay fiber-optic cables and install control boxes. Although the project started late and the original July 31 completion date was pushed back, Cassell said crews were never behind schedule. Crews worked smoothly and with little problems.
“There’s a lot of stuff underground over there. I’m surprised they only hit two gas lines,” he said.
Brighter lights in downtown were necessary, said Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority of Augusta.
“It’s a project that was well worth the time and the effort,” Woodard said. “When something’s well-lit, it’s more secure. It’s safer.”