15K Metro Detroit Freeway Lights to be Replaced with LED Bulbs

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About 15,000 freeway lamps and tunnel lighting systems will be replaced with energy-efficient LED lights in metro Detroit over the next two years. 

The project is being financed through a public-private partnership with BlackRock Infrastructure, an investment manager based in New York, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Freeway Lighting Partners.

“The growth of (public-private partnership) projects in the U.S. is critical to help improve the significant underinvestment in America’s infrastructure,” says Erik Savi, global head of infrastructure debt at BlackRock, the group managing the funds to finance the replacement.

Savi says about 30 percent of the 15,000 lights in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties are not operating due to fiscal constraints and maintenance challenges. The contract mandates that 90 percent of the lights be operational after the first year, and 98 percent after the second year. 

Savi says taxpayers will save as the annual cost of the services under the contract is expected to be lower than what MDOT would have to pay for upgrades. The contract also allows MDOT maintenance forces to focus on other issues.

The agreement is over a 15-year time frame. The debt will be serviced through quarterly payments based on availability and energy savings payments.

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