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Second Avenue Subway Brings Fear-Inducing LED Streetlights

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The Second Avenue Subway has provoked countless grievances among neighbors. The latest: that the LED streetlights that will replace existing ones for energy-efficiency reasons will be too bright. Set to be installed as part of Phase One of the subway—for which projected completion is December 2016—the plan has neighbors worried that lighting will be overwhelming, illuminating the place up like an airport.

So the beleaguered avenue is expected to be rid of construction sheds and fences by the end of 2016. And street lighting entered the picture after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Construction agreed last year to replace street furniture—not just in areas of current construction, where pieces of sidewalk and street have actually been ripped up, but also from East 63rd Street on up to unify the look of the area. Residents said at a community meeting Thursday night that despite public forums where their concerns were voiced, those blasted environmentally friendly LEDs are still on the agenda. They hold that those lights will make the street akin to a highway and shine harshly into windows. (LA switched to LED, by the way, and no one made that big of a fuss.)

At the end of 2014 and early this year, the Upper East Side's Community Board 8 had meetings about the replacement street furniture. MTA Capital Construction presented five options for lighting, said people present at Thursday's meeting. A portion of the CB8 task force on the Second Avenue Subway apparently visited Harlem, where a real-life LED City Light (as it's officially called) is installed near the Apollo Theater.

The task force passed a resolution in January that the DOT use an old-fashioned-looking "Bishop Crook Lamppost, or something similar" on Second Avenue from East 105th to East 65th streets. But in February, the full board voted for the LED City Light. A member of the board explained that the latter are seen as more modern. Meanwhile, the New York Times recently reported that such lighting in Brooklyn has residents feeling "as though a construction or film crew is working outside all night."

Then, at the Second Avenue construction update delivered to the task force and the public last night, several residents showed up expecting further discussion of the street furniture. When told the matter was settled, vocal attendees turned the meeting towards the lighting and the overall politics of how these kinds of decisions were made. A resident of East 72nd Street, Valerie Mason, called the full board vote "rushed," and noted that 600 people signed a petition against the LEDs.

It's unclear whether the community board will change its February recommendation.
· All Second Avenue Subway coverage [Curbed]
—Photo via Shutterstock/Marco Rubino