City, Alliant eye new streetlights for downtown Cedar Rapids

Pilot project installed outside CRST Center

A street lamp outside of the CRST Center, 201 First St. SE, in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, July 3, 2017. (J
A street lamp outside of the CRST Center, 201 First St. SE, in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, July 3, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

By B.A. Morelli, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids is planning to install new streetlights, in a move to replace outdated infrastructure and enhance the aesthetic downtown.

Officials from the city and Alliant Energy are in negotiations over who will maintain the network of streetlights in the downtown and Kingston Village, as well as discussing upgrading many of them with new fixture styles.

The city maintains 85 roadway streetlights and 307 decorative streetlights, and Alliant owns and maintains approximately 85 roadway streetlights in the downtown, according to city documents.

City staff say the majority are at least 25 years old and don’t use the latest technology, such as LED lighting, which is cheaper to operate.

Alliant initially approached the city about updating and changing the decorative streetlights in May 2015. In January, 2016, the city hired Cedar Rapids-based Confluence as a consultant to evaluate architectural needs and layout of the lights for $38,983.

The city estimates it will invest up to $8 million on construction to replace many of the fixtures and $4 million in upfront operational costs that should cover a 30-year period, said Matt Myers, the city’s traffic engineer.

Construction is expected to take two years.

A small-scale pilot of the preferred design has been installed outside the new CRST Center on First Street SE. The fixture features four black accented globes atop a black horizontal pole, with an arm for a banner.

“They don’t overpower the architecture,” Myers said. “They kind of blend in, and black is a really nice color for that. I’m hoping we stick with a black pole because we can put it anywhere.”

He said “pockets of differences” will likely remain. The new poles already erected in Greene Square and the MedQuarter and New Bohemia districts will stay.

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