Heading toward the lights
Downtown revitalization has been a long time coming for residents of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The downtown area first underwent a massive rebuilding effort in the mid-1970s, during which the city installed underground utilities, a new streetscape and specially designed 30-foot-tall light fixtures. But, downtown’s fortunes gradually dimmed over the following decades as age and deferred maintenance took their toll. By 2000, corrosion had weakened some of the light bases, causing some to fall. As a result, the city shut down the downtown street lighting network and temporarily brought in generator-powered lights.
Downtown Wilkes-Barre sat in the dark for several years, until Mayor Thomas Leighton was elected in 2004 and began working with the Wilkes-Barre Chamber’s public-private Downtown Lighting Committee to develop performance standards for replacement streetlights and determine the functional and aesthetic objectives of new lights. The mayor’s office secured millions of dollars in state, federal and city funds to light downtown according to the committee’s recommendations and the approval of the state Department of Transportation.
The city contracted with locally based architectural and engineering firm Borton-Lawson to design and install a pedestrian-friendly lighting system that would serve varying downtown conditions. The firm worked with Roselle, Ill.-based Sternberg Lighting to create fixtures that complement the architecture of the downtown’s River Street National Historic District. For sidewalks, designers chose caged acorn fixtures installed on 12-foot-tall, smooth tapered poles and bases. To light area roads, downlight luminaires were chosen for 25-foot-tall, smooth tapered poles with clam shell bases. About halfway up the roadside poles are light fixtures to provide medium-mount pedestrian lighting.
The first phase of the $7.2 million project was completed in June 2006, with the installation of new streetlights in the downtown’s primary retail area. The second phase, which breaks ground this spring, will install 70 more light fixtures along downtown streets.
Project: Downtown revitalization and street lighting upgrade
Jurisdiction: Luzerne County and Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Agencies involved: Wilkes-Barre; Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry
Contractors: Locally based Borton-Lawson Engineering; Kingston, Pa.-based Penn Lighting; Roselle, Ill.-based Sternberg Lighting; Exeter, Pa.-based Kuharchik Construction
Date completed: Summer 2007
Cost: $7.2 million