BERRYVILLE — If you soon perceive that part of East Main Street looks brighter at night, your eyes won’t be playing tricks on you.
A pilot project to improve street lighting downtown was approved by Berryville Town Council on Tuesday.
Street lamps are positioned only along the north side of Main. They use orange-glowing, high-pressure sodium lights.
Earlier this summer, Councilwoman Diane Harrison said parts of the central business district tend to be extremely dark after the sun goes down.
Town Manager Keith Dalton was urged to work with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) to develop a pilot project using light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. According to representatives of the utility, those bulbs are more energy-efficient and last longer. They also emit light downward instead of all around, causing the illuminated area to be brighter, even though sodium bulbs emit more light.
A high-pressure sodium bulb shines for about 15,000 hours, whereas an LED bulb shines for about 40,000 hours.
As part of the project, LED lights will be installed on poles near the Bank of Clarke County, Berryville Grille and Hogan’s Alley. On two of the poles, the lights will be installed on longer arms.
“Hopefully,” said Harrison, “light will hit both sides of the street.” Currently, only one side is illuminated.
REC will be able to install the new lights and arms within 30-45 days, Dalton said.
After they are installed, a two-block section of Main Street downtown will have a combination of 70-watt LED lights on both four-foot and ten-foot arms and sodium lights on four-inch arms. That is enough to compare the differences between types of lights and arms, officials indicated.
“We should know within a very short time frame” whether LED lights and/or longer pole arms suit downtown better, Harrison said.
Some 135-watt LED lights were proposed to be included in the pilot project. However, Mayor Patricia Dickinson said those would be “super-duper bright,” possibly too much so for people living in apartments downtown.
Property owners in the affected area will receive a notice about the project. Dalton said their feedback will be sought.
The project’s cost to the town has not been determined.