INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly five years after it was announced, Operation Night Light is approaching the finish line and illuminating Indianapolis.
Next week, we expect Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office and AES of Indiana to announce the initiative is complete, bringing energy-efficient light and a sense of security to neighborhoods across the city.
“I'm really excited. I walk my dog every night and it's really nice to feel safe,” Caroline Hall said.
For many people like Hall, the lack of streetlights has always been an annoyance.
“I think there are just some things that'll happen around town," Hall said. "Like cars are broken into and I had some scary things happen at my house before with people just lingering around."
Concerns like Hall’s factored into Hogsett’s ONL initiative. Converting more than 27,000 existing streets to energy-efficient led lights, as well as installing nearly 4,000 new lights.
Christina Crawford has been living on the near north side for about eight years now, similar to Hall, she too has had her fair share of concerns.
"There are areas of towns that I can't really go that late of night feeling just myself,” Crawford said.
The city along with AES, formerly known as IPL, back then, kicked things into gear back in 2018. Now the project is ahead of schedule, nearing 100% completion.
"I feel really great at the fact that we're adding more lights, so thanks to the mayor for doing so,” Hall said.
With ONL the city is hoping to reap many benefits. Like a safer environment, the project will also help the city meet its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
Crawford said the fact that it has taken this long, doesn't surprise her.
“We're in one of the most progressive cities in Indiana, but it still takes time to convince people that it's worthwhile to have,” Crawford said.
This change will also reduce maintenance costs compared to what they were spending to fix and repair decade-old streetlights.
"Indianapolis is a pretty bright city, there are ways we can go about finding eco-friendly yet cost-effective measures for people,” Crawford said.
And finally, increase safety for residents and pedestrians. Making folks like Hall, a happy camper.
"The streets are lit up," Hall said. "I'm on a busy street and there are a lot of lights shining through my bedroom at night and it doesn't even bother me because I think it's just well worth it."
While ONL is almost complete, you can still request a new streetlight through the city of Indianapolis website. AES also encourages residents to report broken or damaged streetlights. Residents can call 317-261-8111 or fill out the form online.
ONL ended a 35-year moratorium on new streetlights in Indianapolis. In 1981, former Mayor Bill Hudnut put the ban on new lights in place as a cost-saving measure. Back when the program began, the mayor's office said the new lights would be paid for with the money saved by the switch to LED lights, eliminating the need to rely on tax dollars.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the city's goal is to become carbon neutral by 2025. It has since been updated to reflect the city's correct goal, which is to become carbon neutral by 2050.