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City receives $60K traffic grant

NATCHEZ — Most Natchez drivers probably don’t consider the cost of a functioning traffic light during their daily commutes, but Rick Freeman thinks about it often.

Freeman, the city’s traffic director, estimates the city spends an average of $83 per month to power each traffic light, but that won’t be the case for much longer.

Mayor Jake Middleton announced the city has been awarded a $60,000 Energy and Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant to replace the city’s 644 incandescent traffic light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs.

The bulb exchange will save the city approximately $17,000 annually, Freeman said.

Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and awarded by the Mississippi Development Authority, the grant will enable to the city to power traffic lights at a lower — and more environmentally friendly — wattage.

Currently, it takes between 69 and 135 watts to power an incandescent traffic light bulb. An LED light bulb will use between 8 and 22 watts, City Engineer David Gardner said.

“When you start looking at the cost of operating the traffic signals, it really adds up,” Gardner said. “Going with the LEDs saves you a tremendous amount of energy.”

Gardner said he had no idea about the traffic light expenses until Freeman brought it to his attention. Gardner then submitted Freeman’s findings to Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District Planner Allen Laird, who submitted the grant application.

As part of the grant agreement, the city has agreed to purchase and install the LED bulbs once the monies become available, Freeman said.

According to the grant application, installing the LED bulbs will take 45 working days. An official start date has not been set.

Freeman estimates labor costs will be approximately $12,300.

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