The Town of Oakville just completed the reconstruction of Lakeshore Road between Mississaga Road (near the old village of Bronte) and the western municipal boundary at Burloak Avenue. This project included the construction of left-turn and bicycle lanes while maintaining one through lane in each direction. The bicycle lanes on this stretch of Lakeshore Road help to integrate it with the Waterfront Trail, which follows Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Trenton.
But one of the most interesting aspects of this otherwise routine road reconstruction has been the installation of white LED streetlighting, the first large installation that I know of in the Greater Toronto Area. LED lighting, which offers energy and maintenance savings, has been used in parking lots and some gas stations, but have not been used widely in streetlighting applications.
Toronto Hydro has been testing a few LED lights as part of its ongoing ALAMP light testing program, launched on city streets in 2009. One of these installations is at Hepbourne and Delaware Avenues , in west end Toronto. I have also spotted new installations elsewhere in Halton Region, such as on Bronte Road in Oakville and Tremaine Road in Milton. (Dave Leblanc wrote a good article about the ALAMP program in the Globe and Mail last December)
While the suburban municipalities surrounding Toronto installed mercury vapour lights in the 1960s through the 1980s (in housings known as “cobra heads”), Toronto chose to maintain bright incandescant lamps within the classic “acorn head” housing affixed to a pole by an elegant two-piece curved bracket. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the bluish-white-burning mercury vapour bulbs were replaced by high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps while the old City of Toronto preferred white lighting over the beige-orange glow of HPS lamps, replacing its inefficient incandescent lights with metal halide lamps.
One of the challenges of LED lighting is that unlike curved lenses, like the classic acorn heads or modern HPS “cobra heads”, LED panels are flat, making light dispersion more difficult. This is an important to the safety of street users, particularly pedestrians. The pure white light is also brigher and harsher than older sources of streetlighting. However, the ALAMP installation seems to mitigate these drawbacks somewhat.
So far, one of my main concerns with the ALAMP LED lighting installation at Delaware and Hepbourne is that the LED panels are, in my opinion, a poor fit with the classic Toronto lamp bracket, and I will mourn the loss of the small acorn heads. However, when affixed to the standard suburban bracket, the LED panels look sleek, such as the shot below of new LED lamps on Tremaine Road in suburban Milton.
There is still time to provide input to Toronto Hydro, ALAMP continues until July, when field testing ends and final analysis begins. Hydro welcomes public comments on its website, the signs at ALAMP sites encourage public input.
New LED lights on Tremaine Road.
While I do not agree with the philosophy behind the “Get Toronto Moving” platform of highway and transit expansion, that website includes an exhaustive history of street and highway lighting in the City of Toronto.