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Taking care of Boston's streetlights

The Street Lighting Division of Public Works fixes and maintains streetlights across the City.

We take care of about 67,000 electric streetlights and 2,800 gas lights in Boston. We make decisions on what lights to fix and repair based on inspections. These take place on high-traffic streets, and at the request of neighborhood groups and the general public.

Members of the Public Works Street Lighting Division

Our streetlights meet at least the minimum federal requirements of the Federal Highway Administration and the Illuminating Engineer Society.

Converting streetlights to LED

Image for led and streetlight side by side

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. Traditional lighting sources produce light through a filament that burns out. LEDs produce light when electrons move through a semi-conductor. Starting in the fall of 2010, the City began converting streetlights to LED technology.

LED lights create a better and brighter experience for residents:

  • LED lights have a life expectancy of 15 years, meaning less outages. They also last three times longer than traditional light sources.
  • The true white-light quality of the bulbs allows you to see colors more clearly.
  • LED lights aim better. Less light from the street comes into homes and businesses.
  • Better, more consistent light means fewer dark spots. We can also guide LED lights to spread more evenly.
  • By using LED lights, we drop our energy use and carbon emissions by 60 percent.

The LED streetlight program won the Leading by Example Award from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources in 2011.

Watch: Meet the streetlights team

Street lighting facts and figures

Image for fixing streetlights

There are 67,000 streetlights in the City. Of these, 2,800 are gas lights and 1,500 are fire-alarm lights.

We use 19 different types of light fixtures: Algonquin, Colonial, Wells Bach, Seaport, Ball Globe, Franklin Pendant, Acorn, Rectilinear, Cobra, Nautical, Cube, Bishop Crook, 50/50, and Copley.

In the City, we use more than 18 million feet of cable and four million feet of conduit piping. We’ve also made more than 400,000 splices.

There are 1,600 control boxes and 32,000 manhole pull boxes.

Thousands of streetlights are “dark-sky friendly.” That means 95 percent of the light shoots down instead of up in the sky.

We supply floodlighting on historic landmarks and church steeples through a partnership with “Historic Boston” and “Light Boston.”

We install, light, and then remove more than 46 Christmas trees across the City.

Street lighting service requests

Service requests
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