Some of the darker, more foreboding areas in Atlantic City's Tourism District will be brightened up by new street lights under a $500,000 program approved Tuesday by a state agency.
Plans call for replacing or repairing 100 broken lights by this fall along several streets that serve as key feeder routes for the Tourism District as well as local neighborhoods.
The program represents the next phase to repair a total of 400 broken or missing street lights on some of the main roads leading into the Tourism District. Already, 300 lights have been fixed by Atlantic City Electric, the local utility company.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the state agency that oversees the Tourism District, said the new street lights are an important element in removing blight and making the city safer for tourists and residents alike.
"Our responsibility in advancing our clean-and-safe initiative is to focus on well-lighted streets," CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri said. "Lighting is very important to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. We understand the importance of providing a clean and safe environment for the people who live here and for the visitors to the city."
Mayor Lorenzo Langford, who sits on the CRDA board, called the lighting program a great asset for the city. However, the mayor recused himself from voting Tuesday on the $500,000 funding package to avoid any legal conflicts because the money will directly benefit the city.
"I think this goes along with the city's plan and the CRDA's goal for having clean and safe streets," Langford said. "It can only help. It can't hurt. It's certainly a good thing."
The 100 street lights are on Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and North Carolina avenues and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Atlantic and Pacific avenues also are included in the lighting upgrades.
The program is the result of a new agreement between the CRDA, the city and Atlantic City Electric. The agreement finally clears up questions about the ownership of the street lights and who was responsible for their maintenance. The remaining 100 lights are owned by the city, according to Tom Meehan, a senior CRDA executive.
At the same time repairs are under way on the street lights, the CRDA is in the midst of the second phase of adding new lighting to the Boardwalk to make it safer and more appealing to tourists. Meehan said there will be $250,000 in repairs to 40 Boardwalk light fixtures from Roosevelt Place to Jackson Avenue.
A comprehensive reform package, orchestrated by Gov. Chris Christie in 2011, created the state-run Tourism District and focused new attention on boosting business for Atlantic City's struggling economy. The tourism zone includes the Boardwalk, the beaches, the casinos, The Walk shopping district and Gardner's Basin. Also included are 10 roads leading into the Tourism District.
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