Reporting Lauren Leamanczyk
HAMPTON, N.H. (CBS) – Some town leaders in New Hampshire say the state’s plan to shut their street lights off at night puts people at risk.
The lights will go out on many New Hampshire highways in June as a cost saving measure. In Hampton, those outages go right through the heart of their business district and people are worried.
On busy Ocean Boulevard, they are gearing up for peak season. As tourists flock to the beach, they will likely find it darker than before. Among the thousands of street lights the state plans to cut power to, at least 21 are along this stretch of road. It’s shocking news to the owners of Sweet Hannah’s.
“I think having the streets lit up at night helps all the businesses on the beach,” says business owner Marc Lane. “I think there are safety concerns, particularly late at night.”
The DOT says budget cuts are to blame. They are being forced to trim more than half of their energy budget and turning off the lights is one way to make the numbers work.
In all about 3,000 street lights in New Hampshire will go dark. That’s 65-75 percent of all the street lights on state owned roads.
Hampton’s Town Manager Frederick Welch still hasn’t been officially told about the plan, but he says taking lights from 1A will bring big problems especially in the summer when the area has 200,000 visitors per day.
Welch says, “We have a lot of children, a lot of adults, a lot of senior citizens crossing the streets in the middle of the night with no street lights, it’s a dangerous situation.”
And while not all the lights will be dimmed, businesses on Ocean Boulevard, wish the state could find another way to balance the budget.
The DOT admits more lights are better, but they say not all of the lights in the state are necessary. Towns do have the option to pick up the bill and pay to keep the street lights on but their budgets aren’t in any better shape than the state’s.