Tupelo’s LED switch nears end

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – It’s almost lights out for incandescent traffic bulbs in the city.
By the end of the upcoming fiscal year, Tupelo Water & Light will have replaced all 652 traffic signal lamps with LED lights.
Now in its fourth year, the ongoing effort has replaced 85 percent of the city’s incandescent traffic-signal bulbs with light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. The switch has cost the department $50,000 annually, and manager Johnny Timmons said he’ll budget the remaining amount in his upcoming fiscal year spending plan.
“This year here, we think we’re going to knock it out and still be within budget,” Timmons said.
He presented his plan to the City Council during a budget session earlier this week at City Hall.
LEDs shine brighter, last longer and require fewer maintenance calls than their incandescent predecessors. They also perform better than regular bulbs when hit with glare-producing sunlight.
And they cost about 90 percent less.
Before the conversion began, the city was paying nearly $52,000 a year to keep its traffic signals illuminated.
The bill has since shriveled to about $20,000 annually and will drop to roughly $5,200 by the time the project ends.
TW&L performs the work with existing staff, who replace about 100 bulbs per year. Traffic signals that racked up the most sun-glare complaints got converted first. Signals in high-traffic areas got second priority. And any incandescent bulb that burns out, no matter where its signal’s location, gets replaced with an LED version on the spot.
“If we had designated a crew to do just that – and if we had the funding to do it all – we could have done the whole city in a year, Timmons said.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com