By Jane Smith
Before the next sea turtle nesting season, the busy beachside intersection of State Road A1A and Atlantic Avenue will be lit with amber LED lights that can stay on throughout the year, even during the turtles’ eight-month nesting season.
The rest of Delray Beach will switch to white LED lights as a sustainability measure — the equivalent of taking 172 cars off the road — Missie Barletto, Public Works director, said at the May 18 Delray Beach City Commission meeting. The lights will be brighter than those on Christmas trees and likely will improve public safety, she said.
The five commissioners gave their consensus to proceed.
The A1A change has been about three years in the making.
The city had its amber lights on Florida Power & Light poles for years. But the utility decided in 2018 that it would no longer allow customer-owned fixtures on its poles between George Bush Boulevard and Casuarina Road.
That’s when the city scrambled between the safety of nesting sea turtles balanced against the concerns of residents and visitors near the bustling intersection.
The Beach Property Owners Association had asked FPL to work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to approve amber LED lights to quell concerns about darkness on the 1.1-mile municipal beach. In addition to meeting the FWC standards to protect nesting sea turtles March 1 through Oct. 31, FPL has its own technical and reliability standards.
Instead of choosing red LED lights that could stay on during the turtle-nesting season, the city opted for white LED lights that would go dark for eight months. It will take another five months until the amber LED lights are installed.
“Thank you to the city, FPL and FWC for making our streets more safe for residents and traffic,” said Bob Victorin, BPOA president, “while preserving the safety of nesting sea turtles.”
The city will pay about $7,300 to switch out the lights on 34 poles along A1A.
For the rest of the city, FPL will change the 3,800 sodium halogen lights to white LED lights at no cost to the city.
“Some streetlights are not working in the Northwest and Southwest neighborhoods,” said Vice Mayor Shirley Johnson, “so it will be bright” after the white LED lights are installed.
By Jane Smith