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Let there be light

Solar-powered street lamps erected along toll road

BY COREY ROBINSON Sunday Observer reporter robinsonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 03, 2013    

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MOTORISTS traversing the Portmore, Vineyards, and Spanish Town legs of Highway 2000 in St Catherine should be able to see better come nightfall because of 221 Light-emitting diode (LED) street lamps now being erected on the inter-parish thoroughfare.

Arnold 'JJ' Foote, public relations spokesman for TransJamaican Highway Limited, said approximately 160 lighting systems are being installed at interchanges on the highway — a project scheduled to be completed by March.

"Phase1B from Sandy Bay to May Pen is outfitted with 51 functioning LED solar lighting systems. They are located at the interchanges along the stretch," said Foote, responding to Jamaica Observer queries on Thursday.

"Approximately 160 systems are presently being installed along the interchanges on Phase 1A, which includes the Portmore, Vineyards, and Spanish Town legs."

The other 10 streetlamps have already been installed along the Portmore Causeway during a pilot initiative launched in 2011, explained Foote.

He said the programme has been without any major glitches.

"A considerable amount of due diligence was carried out by TransJamaican Highway Limited prior to the launch of the project," he said, referencing the findings of the pilot project which ended last year.

Canadian solar light company PoleCo Limited was awarded the contract to erect the street lights after their LED technology was found more durable and cost-effective during the pilot-testing than a High Pressure Sodium (HPS) system. PoleCo's solar lights will provide life-cycle cost savings of more than US$800,000 with a return on investment of less than four years, the company's website stated.

"The project is a flagship for solar lighting in the Caribbean and demonstrates the significant savings and reduction in environmental impact that can be realised through off-grid lighting," the website quoted Steve Elder, PoleCo's president, as saying.

Foote avoided queries regarding the cost of erecting and maintaining the street lamps but noted that such fees will be absorbed by TransJamaican Highway Limited. It will be at no cost to motorists, he assured.

The erection of the streetlamps should mitigate the effects of a long-standing dispute between the local and central arms of Government about which entity ought to be responsible for paying the electricity costs of toll road street lighting hooked up to the JPS grid.

Yesterday, Portmore's mayor, George Lee, said he was glad the quarrel was over.

"We are just glad that the conflict is now behind us and that the lights are being erected. The lights will certainly make the roads a lot safer. I just hope that motorists won't see them as a reason to speed, but to ensure that they observe the safety regulations of the road," Lee said.

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