PITTSBURGH – County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced today that installation of 122 solar lights in the county’s South Park has been completed. The lights are illuminating approximately two miles of a pedestrian path along Corrigan Drive between Library Road (Route 88) and Brownsville Road. They enhance public safety and are part of the county’s continued commitment to the environment.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the work that was done as part of this project. This investment moves the county one step closer to using 100% renewable energy, and it’s extremely important that we are a leader in sustainability and addressing climate change,” said Fitzgerald. “The lights also are a tremendous feature for walkers and runners, allowing for more usage of the path and while also making it safer. They benefit our operations, bottom line, health, and quality of life.”
The $738,750 project included installation of light poles mounted with a solar panel, battery, and LED light as well as replacement of sections of guide rail. The work was completed by Allegheny City Electric, Inc. of Ross Township.
Additionally, the Department of Public Works, which managed the project, fabricated and installed 25 educational signs along the pedestrian path. Those signs provide information related to air quality and what the public can do to help reduce air pollution.
The signs are in highly visible locations, as the pedestrian path is very popular among South Park visitors. That includes during early morning and late evening hours when there is less sunlight, so it has been a longtime Parks Department goal to improve visibility and safety there.
To illuminate the path, the county considered both conventional lighting and solar-powered LED lights. The upfront costs of installing the infrastructure for conventional lights made the project more cost‑prohibitive, leading the department to select the solar project for both environmental and cost‑saving reasons, saving valuable taxpayer dollars. By installing solar-powered lights, the county saved an estimated $800,000 in upfront costs and is expected to save $13,000 in electricity costs over the next decade.
The LED bulbs installed are about 50 percent more energy efficient than the typical bulb used for street/path lights, and the new lighting system will use 16,511 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually – the equivalent of charging 1,488,803 smartphones – according the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Based on that data, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that by using solar energy instead of electricity to power the lights, the county will be annually preventing 20,194 pounds of carbon dioxide, 16 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 14 pounds of nitrogen oxide from being emitted by area power plants.
The project was funded by a Health Department Clean Air Fund grant and the Department of Public Works. The $323,750 grant helped cover costs associated with the purchase and installation of the solar panels, batteries, and LED lights. Since 2015, more than $4 million has been awarded from the Clean Air Fund for valuable projects such as this one that are focused on pollution prevention activities and air quality education efforts.
The Corrigan Drive pedestrian path is open to the public daily from dawn until midnight.