As the memories of TCU’s run at the national title fade, the city of Fort Worth is assuring residents that the purple glow of defective street lights will also begin to dim.
So far, the city has replaced about 250 streetlights in two weeks. About 100 lights will be replaced per week, weather permitting, said Brandon Callicoat, Transportation Management Division superintendent.
The Fort Worth Report first pointed out the defect in December while city staff were still working to identify the scope of the problem. Since then, residents have reported over 1,000 defective bulbs.
Prince fans will likely “Go Crazy” when the purple lights are soon replaced, and they’re not alone. Some residents said they prefer the purple-hued lights.
“I really like the purple street lights,” Fort Worth resident Rebekah Nelson said. They “make me feel calmer and more clear-headed when driving at night.”
A manufacturer’s defect causes some lights to suddenly glow blue or purple. It’s an issue that is affecting other LED streetlights across the country, according to a report from Business Insider.
The defect can be traced to Acuity Brands Lighting, which controls a large share of the LED street lighting market. The defect can cause the lights to change to a range of hues, a light blue to a deep violet.
The defect is a result of “Phosphor displacement.” LED’s are able to illuminate in a range of colors. Over time, as the lights degrade, the color of the lights can shift unexpectedly. That’s why one day a light may appear to be working fine and then the next evening it glows purple.
When the issue was identified months ago, the manufacturer agreed to pay to replace the defective LED bulbs.
“The manufacturer has hired a contractor to complete the purple streetlight replacements and will be hiring additional contractors shortly, Callicoat said.
Acuity Brands is not the only lighting manufacturer experiencing the issue, said Cathy Lewandowski, external communications senior manager with the company.
“This light output is in no way harmful or unsafe and we no longer use the LEDs that caused this spectral shift,” Lewandowski said in a statement.
City also adds more crews to replace streetlights
Simultaneously Fort Worth devoted more money in the city’s 2023 budget to address broken streetlights at a faster pace. The city recently increased the number of crews working to replace streetlights from nine to 12. Streetlight crews have reduced a backlog of repairs by 82%, according to a press release from the city.
Kristy Hudgens Moon lives in the Alliance area of north Fort Worth. Their area still lacks sufficient lighting despite the additional investment, she said.
“We have light poles with no working lights at a busy intersection above an interstate,” Moon said.
Lighting crews employed by the city are focused solely on replacing street lights that are completely dark, Callicoat said.
So far, the city has identified 1,100 purple lights that need to be replaced. Residents can continue reporting street lights when they see them through the MyFW app or through the city’s call center by calling 817-392-1234.
Despite identifying defects and working with Acuity Brands Lighting to replace purple lights, there is no guarantee contractors will be able to reach all of the potentially defective lights, or prevent this issue in the future, Callicoat said.
“Honestly, there is no way to guarantee this will not happen again because of the nature of the manufacturer’s defect,” Callicoat said. “We follow the standard practice of testing all fixtures over a 30-day time frame, while these defects become apparent anywhere from 3 months to 1 year after the fixture has been installed.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated on Feb. 21 to include the correct number for the Fort Worth call center.
Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.