Seeing is believing as MDOT's P3 for freeway lighting moves into final acceptance phase

Contact: Rob Morosi, MDOT Office of Communications
Agency: Transportation

Safety benefits:
- This freeway lighting project will enhance motorists’ visibility and traffic safety.

September 6, 2017 -- In fall 2015, MDOT entered into a public-private partnership (P3) to accelerate the repair and replacement of approximately 15,000 freeway lights in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. In addition, all freeway lights were converted to a more energy-efficient LED model. Less than two years later, the installation is complete, more than 98 percent of the lights are operational and contractors are moving into the final acceptance phase.

The P3 model was chosen because it allowed for leveraging private finance to accelerate capital improvements that would otherwise take numerous years to complete given the current funding situation in Michigan.

"To be truly innovative requires achieving more than just your desired outcome," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "We were able to accomplish getting the lights operating while saving Michigan taxpayers an expected $1.5 million annually in energy savings."

At the end of 2013, approximately 70 percent of the freeway lights were operational due to fiscal constraints, age of the system, and copper theft. At that time, close to 90 percent of the freeway lights were the old high-pressure sodium or metal halide fixtures.

"Motorists operating a vehicle in the hours of darkness experience a decrease in visual acuity and perception, which can relate to having a delayed reaction time," stated Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. "By providing optimal lighting on freeways, motorists will have the advantage of perceiving hazards much quicker, which will allow them time to react properly, potentially reducing serious injury and fatal traffic crashes during the hours of darkness."

The final acceptance phase, which is limited to 60 days, includes a detailed review of the installation, repair and operation processes to ensure the work meets current federal and state requirements. After final acceptance, the P3 vendor moves into the operation and maintenance phase to ensure all freeway lights are operating within the limits of the contract.

The freeway lighting P3 is a 15-year contract and includes design, construction, finance, maintenance and operation of the freeway lighting system. The contract includes stipulations for performance measures to ensure the safeguarding of public funds, with the final 13 years focusing on maintenance and sustaining a high level of performance.