Town Crier Articles

A New Town Streetlight Primer
Posted on October 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Kathy Mullins
Categories: General, NTRA Business
Among many attributes that make New Town unique are the handsome streetlights that adorn our residential neighborhoods. Myriad factors were considered when these fixtures were selected: compliance with local and state regulations; design attributes that would enhance the character and mood of the streetscape; illumination appropriate for ambience and safety concerns; satisfactory environmental criteria; capacity to add utility (adding signage or seasonal decoration); and, costs - installation and maintenance ... and more.  
This article will focus on the last factor, the one that generates the most questions: maintenance.  What’s involved and how can homeowners help keep the lights on?
Here are some enlightening facts about our streetlight assets.
There are approximately 225 residential streetlights in New Town.
The NTRA is responsible for maintaining and repairing the streetlights in New Town. In the main, this includes those on streets and alleys, in parks and within many, but not all, parking lots. Since some lines of responsibility are difficult to delineate (as in “many, but not all”), the most efficient way for oversight to function at present, is for all problem reports to be submitted through the STREETLIGHT PROBLEM reporting system on the website. (See below). Town Management will receive and review all reports, and redirect any that should be handled by the Commercial Association or another entity. 
Neither V-DOT nor Dominion Power is involved with maintaining or repairing streetlights in New Town. 
Around 2013 NTRA initiated a program to retrofit the existing decorative streetlamps for the use of energy-efficient LED bulbs. The intent was to lower costs associated with frequent bulb replacement and to conserve energy. The changeovers occurred gradually, usually when bulb replacement or other maintenance was needed. To date about 50% of the residential streetlamps have been retrofit for LED usage (lighting for the new construction in Shirley Park is LED.) The remainder continue to use older-style bulbs, such as Mercury-Halide or CFL. Other types of exterior street lighting can be found in the commercial areas and parking lots.  
There are regular inspections of assets requiring maintenance (dog waste bins, street lights, walking paths, etc. Town Management personnel, maintenance staff, and NTRA committees, such as the Asset Maintenance Committee, assist. Because lighting problems are more easily detected at night, residents can be extremely helpful by reporting any issues seen in a timely fashion. 
What should residents do when they notice a streetlight problem?
All homeowners should become familiar with the NTRA website which provides a simple means of reporting problems.  From the MENU, under the RESIDENTS tab, select “REPORT AN ISSUE.”  From 11 options (e.g., Pool & Playgrounds, Finance, etc.) choose the newest tab, “STREETLIGHT PROBLEM.” 
Fill in requested information to help speed the repair:
  • Your name and email address (in case more specific details are needed) 
  • Pole Number. An I.D. plate is attached near the base of every streetlight pole (see photo) with coded information that conveys information to the electrician. The label in this photo indicates that the street light is attached to the Phase 2 electrical panel, it is located on Casey Blvd and is the first pole in the sequence of that group. Copy this information down to include with a problem report. Tim Grueter of Town Management, says that including this number is a huge help, as is noting the address of the nearest home or intersection.
  • Describe details. For example, only one bulb is unlit, the lamp has become very dim, the light remains on all day, or several lamps are out along the street. If an outage occurred after a shovel cut a wire or a sign was inserted near the pole, include that possibility so the electrician arrives with the necessary tools. 
  • Be specific with details if you are reporting something other than an electrical issue; for example, physical damage to the light pole, broken glass in the globe or a disconnected armature. The situation may require someone other than an electrician.
Town Management works with a roster of local electricians who are familiar with our streetlights and prepared with necessary parts to service them. At least once a month, and more frequently when indicated, an electrician is dispatched to deal with repairs/LED replacement (in a batch). There have been problems that hampered repairs during this pandemic period with shortages of certain supplies, particularly retrofit units, and of personnel at distributor facilities. These issues seem to be resolving.
Note that this article concerns Streetlight Issues, not major power outages that might occur due to a storm or hurricane. In those circumstances, residents would report outages to Dominion Virginia Power. Report the outage using a cell phone: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
We can all help keep the lights on. 
Tag at bottom of pole shows coded information needed when submitting a "STREETLIGHT PROBLEM" report
Streetlights were carefully selected to enhance the design elements of New Town residential neighborhoods. 
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