PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It’s getting darker earlier, and darkness means more danger for those walking through their neighborhoods without lights.
Residents near Irving Park have had a limited amount of lighting since 73 out of the 78 light poles were removed during the Light Pole Safety Project.
Since the beginning of 2023, 243 light poles have been removed across 11 city parks after the poles were found to be unsafe. Some were 100 years old, and at least one person was seriously injured by a falling pole within the last year.
Those who use the park recognize the need for new lights, but say they don’t like being in the dark.
“We definitely need lights in the park for safety,” Gina Kieval said. “I don’t generally walk late at night with the dog. If I do, I stick to my neighborhood streets.”
Portland City Council recently approved the installation of new lights, and Portland Parks and Recreation spokesperson Mark Ross said the department “understands the need to replace park lighting as quickly as possible and is working with that in mind.”
However, construction schedules are heavily dependent on weather and the availability of materials.
Emma Browne lives in the Kenton area. She said the missing lights have made getting around more difficult.
“It seems really important to get those lights on because we just had Daylight Savings and it’s harder and harder to be outside,” Browne said.
For others, like Northeast resident Lauren Varney, being outside is part of their daily routine. He said he’s not afraid of walking in the area at night.
“I’ve been in this neighborhood for 50 years,” he said. “I feel real comfortable. But I know other people always don’t feel the same way I do.”
Colonel Summers Park was the first to have 13 new light poles installed. The new LED lights are 66% more efficient than the ones they’re replacing, and the bulbs are expected to last longer.
Meanwhile, Sellwood Riverfront Park is expected to have all their lights up before Thanksgiving, and work could start at Irving Park by the end of the month.
The entire project is expected to be completed by the Spring of 2024.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.