Home News Lights out: too dark in Rexburg?

Lights out: too dark in Rexburg?

KELSEY BARRETT| Scroll Photography
KELSEY BARRETT| Scroll Photography

Late at night, Aaron Olsen came home with blood on his hands and his shirt torn because his bicycle slipped on gravel.

When Olsen, a junior majoring in international studies, was riding his bike back from his friend’s apartment. He turned a corner near the train tracks and his bicycle slipped out from underneath him.

“I couldn’t see the gravel,” Olsen said. “So I had no idea there was danger.”

The gravel shredded his shoulder and left palm.

“Luckily I was wearing a helmet because I hit my head pretty hard,” Olsen said.

For the next two weeks he walked the 15 minutes to school and needed help getting dressed.

“There weren’t any streetlights around, so I didn’t see the gravel all over the bike lane,” Olsen said.

On Oct. 1, the Rexburg City Council met.

At the meeting, council member Jordan Busby said there were 31 different areas that needed lighting.

Busby also said Public Works Director John Millar would prioritize the streetlights and install some before winter.

With several pedestrian accidents in the past cole years, the city of Rexburg is looking for a way to improve safety for its citizens.

Each year, Rexburg works to add lighting to as many areas as financially possible, said Dee Dee Tucker, administrative assistant for the Public Works Department of Rexburg.

Construction will continue as long as the weather will cooperate.

“After the lighting (plan) is approved, the engineers will create a set of plans and … the project will be sent out for bid,” Tucker said.

The construction of these lights will cost the city several million dollars, which will be taken from the city’s streetlight fund.

Each resident pays a street lighting fee and those funds are used to increase and improve the lighting in Rexburg.

“Each lighting situation is different,” Tucker said. “Some areas will be completed for a lot less, depending on their access to active power.”

For an area that already has power, the new light installation will cost significantly less. An area will require power to be run underground to the light pole or for an area will have a larger distance between poles costs more.

The Rexburg City Council and the Rexburg Police Department work side by side to determine areas of concerns.

“Safety is the main reason for additional lighting,” Tucker said. “The city is continually looking for dark areas to light and to help keep with the continual growth of the city.”

BYU-Idaho students’ safety was a crucial part of the city officials’ decision to go ahead with the construction of the street lights.

“The city is responsible for making its residents safe,” said Hannah Rowan, a freshman studying biology.

Rowan said no price is too high for the safety of the people.

“If pedestrian safety was not something that the city and drivers put as a high priority, a lot more people would get hurt as a result,” Rowan said.

Earlier this year, a female student was struck by a vehicle at Seventh South and Center Street in Rexburg causing her to be critically injured.

“We live in a country where people should feel safe when walking outside in the city,” Rowan said. “Therefore, street light construction should be a priority.”

One new light has already been added on Second South and First West, and other areas are expected to be finished by the end of the year.

Though some projects will be completed soon, construction sites are to be around in Rexburg for a while.

“We will never be done,” Tucker said. “The need for additional lighting grows with every new construction and population increase. We strive to complete as many projects as financially possible, weather permitting.”


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