City spends millions on LED lights, already repairing thousands


The city spent millions to light up the streets of Albuquerque with cutting edge LED lights, but some of those lights are already on the fritz.

People downtown say they thought LED fixtures would be an extra layer of safety but say it feels more like a strobe light than a street light. 

“It’s not really a flicker it’s a strobe,” said Tikesha Hayden.

From the interstate to downtown, out of the city’s 20,000 newly installed LED lights, dozens of them aren’t working right now. 

“What we’ve run into with some of the lights is there is not consistent electrical power running to the lights,” said Johnny Chandler, Department of Municipal Development spokesperson. 

The city started the $20 million project in the fall of 2017 and finished last December.

“Uh, that’s unfortunate. That’s a lot of money to spend and they don’t work properly,” Hayden said. 

Since 2017 however, more than 7,000 LED lights have needed some type of repair.

“It’s not as simple as putting in a new LED light bulb,” Chandler said. 

Hayden runs a hair salon near the corner of Coal and Fourth Street. She experiences the flickering every night. 

“When I’m leaving it’s sound 6:30, 7:00 and on Fourth and Coal there is just like a strobe light going on,” Hayden said. 

According to the city, thieves looking for copper are partially to blame.

“As a result of them cutting the wire we had an inconsistent electrical conduit to the light which causes the flickering,” Chandler said. 

The city also says breaker issues affect multiple lights in the same area. 

“We had a breaker box that was failing, and as a result of that the consistent electricity is not getting to the light,” Chandler said. 

The city says the longer the light flickers, the more damage it causes and the greater cost to the city to fix it. 

“When there is a light flickering like that, if we don’t address it right away it will damage other equipment within the light,” Chandler said. 

Crews are out every night looking for the flickering lights, but they also rely on the public to get them repaired. They urge anyone who sees a flickering light to call 311 or file a report on the One ABQ app

The city says it’s trying to put special locks on the boxes to make it more difficult for thieves to cut the wiring. They also put aluminum wiring labels on the light poles, to deter thieves. 

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