Tulsa is trying to lighten up.
The city and PSO are in the process of putting up 144 street lights around area schools, an obviously important project that was funded through the Vision Tulsa school safety initiative.
Once that project is completed, the city has set aside money for new street lights for other neighborhoods that have been kept in the dark too long.
PSO will install and care for the neighborhood street lights once the city covers initial costs.
It’s important to distinguish the addition of new neighborhood street lights from the city’s efforts to relight highways, which fell victim to thieves stealing their wiring. After they are installed, neighborhood lights become the property and responsibility of PSO. Highway lighting is owned by the city, which is completely responsible for upkeep. That meant recovery from the wire theft epidemic had a greater public expense.
There are many neighborhoods that would like to be first to get the new lights. The latest count is 137 requests, a backlog that built up in the decade that the city deferred action in a misguided attempt to save money.
The city is prioritizing the projects objectively, using a weighted scoring system that takes into account crime; reliance on alternative modes of transportation; nearby needs, such as grocery stores; and economic conditions.
That’s a rational and fair way to deal with the issue that effectively brings an important city benefit to parts of the city that have, frankly, been unserved too long.
Street lights are an inexpensive way to give Tulsans a feeling of safety and strengthen neighborhoods. The decision to stop adding streetlights was a penny-wise, pound-foolish choice that undercut Tulsa’s vitality, and we’re glad to see it reversed in an equitable, apolitical fashion.