Let there be lights In Harlem

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HERE’S a bright idea. The Department of Transportation on Thursday installed its first City Light, a custom-designed lamppost powered by LEDs that can burn for up to 20 years.The high-tech lamps have been in development for five years and are one of the last initiatives of outgoing Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

“These installations are a shining example of what we’ve done to make our streets look better and work better,” she said at Thursday’s ceremony at 125th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.

The lamppost will eventually replace the city’s main street lamp, the bulbous “cobra-head,” which is 60% less efficient.

 Harlem is getting the first batch, with 62 more “rattlesnake heads” installed uptown by next summer.

The new light emitting diode lights will replace existing streetlamps as the older ones break. But if that’s too slow for some neighborhoods, business improvement districts or elected officials can pony up the cost.

Assemblyman Keith Wright (D—Harlem) set aside $556,000 for new lights in 2005 and finally got them now. Still, he was pleased.

“They’re sleek, they’re sexy, they’re chic — just like 125th St.,” Wright said.

The City Lights are part of a larger $1.5 million plan to install new traffic signals and wayfinding maps along 125th St.

The new fixtures are no more expensive than the current ones, according to the city, but save money on maintenance because the bulbs need to be changed so rarely.

Miguel Reyes, a first-responder from Washington Heights who was visiting his doctor’s office on 125th St., is certainly jealous.

“Those are lights? It looks so modern,” he said. “When can we get ours?”

Ernestine Vega, a Harlem resident, was impressed, but also anxious. “They look great, but every day it’s something new on 125th St.” she said.

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