FAIR HAVEN TO DIM ‘RUNWAY’ WATTAGE

fh-riv-rd-lamps-112911Alternating lamps along the River Road streetscape will be shut off after 11 p.m., officials say. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna says it looks like “an airport runway,” and he’s not the only one who marvels at the candlepower along River Road in neighboring Fair Haven.

Resident Ruth Blaser wonders, “Did the town engineer go to a closeout sale for streetlamps and say, ‘I’ll take them all?'”

The sarcasm, however, may be in for a dial-back soon – at least as it regards late-night travel along the road.

The 73 old-fashioned lamps lining the town’s main drag from Smith Street to Elm Place are the most visible elements of a recent streetscape makeover funded by $886,000 in federal stimulus money that ex-Mayor Mike Halfacre opposed but sought on the borough’s behalf. The pricetag also bought new sidewalks, curbs, benches and trashcans.

Now, the overall runway effect is in for a dimming.

The lamps were installed with the capability of being turned on and off individually, said borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande. But an issue involving a utility pole that had to be removed prevented the option from being available, she said.

That problem has either been fixed or is about to be, and soon, every other light will be shut off after 11 p.m., she said.

redbankgreen was unable to find out how many lamps the new ones replaced. But the new ones, said Casagrande, spread their light over a smaller area than their predecessors.

How much do they cost to operate? Less than the old streetlamps, it appears. Bills for the comparable June-through-mid-November period for 2010, when the old lights were still used, and 2011, when all the new ones were in, show a drop in electricity costs for the borough to just under $46,000, from slightly more than $60,000.

The bills, however, include non-streeet-lighting expenses and other variables that may have accounted for some of the difference, Casagrande said.