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Acuity Distribution Center

Street Lighting Amherst, NY

Prismatic glass fixtures meet diverse
needs of Amherst lighting districts

The Town of Amherst, New York, a Buffalo suburb covering 52 square miles, is divided into 300 street lighting districts of varying sizes. Many of the lighting districts were established during the past 40 years as a result of individual neighborhoods petitioning the town to install street lighting in their areas.

With some of the lighting fixtures and poles in use for 40 years or longer, the Amherst Highway Department recently undertook the massive task of retrofitting many of the existing fixtures. Most of the units that have been removed are 2500 lumen incandescent fixtures—with some mercury vapor lamps—installed on 10-foot poles. According to Marcia Chase, right-of-way agent for the Town of Amherst, under the supervision of Tom Wik, P.E. superintendent of highways,one of the challenges the city faced was how to maintain a consistent look as drivers traveled from one lighting district into the next.

“We were unable to use a decorative-type fixture because of the different styles of homes within the districts, which range from large brick houses in some of the older sections to more modern structures in the newer subdivisions.
The goal was to use the same fixture in all of the districts so drivers and pedestrians would not notice the difference when they passed from one district into another,” described Chase, who works out of the Amherst Highway Department.

Fixtures selected for the retrofit are Holophane RSL 350 residential postop units with 70-watt and 100-watt high pressure sodium lamps. The units are designed to complement contemporary or traditional architecture, and utilize a precision optical system for maximum pole spacing.

The town of Amherst first installed the RSL 350 fixtures with 70-watt lamps in 1986.

“We liked the affect of the prismatic glass lens, which appears to glow in the dark. The glass lens also eliminates the potential for discoloration,” Chase said. The new lighting fixtures are installed on 12-foot black fiberglass poles.

In general, fixtures with the 70-watt lamps are used in the older districts, while the 100-watt units are installed in newer subdivisions and districts closest to Buffalo. Illumination levels range from 3/4 to 1 1/2 footcandles.

“With the previous units, we tended to have puddles of light in the area immediately surrounding the fixtures, and large areas of darkness in-between,” said Chase. “The RSL units provide a consistent pattern of illumination, which is especially noticeable to drivers because they can see farther down the street,” Chase indicated that energy consumption is a concern for every highway department project, which is why the 70-watt and 100-watt HPS lamps were specified. "

“The Holophane fixtures, provided under a rental agreement with Niagra Mohawk Power Corporation) were more expensive initially, but they will more than pay for themselves in the form of reduced energy costs. In addition, one of the newer districts was able to use nearly 20 percent fewer fixtures by using the RSL 350 fixtures than if the previous units had been installed,” Chase said.

In most instances, new poles were installed one for one in the same locations as the previous units. Spacing ranges from 110 to 120 feet, although the distance between some units may extend as much as 200 feet or more. Fixtures are controlled by a photocell.

To date, nearly 2,000 RSL 350 fixtures have been installed in more than 50 updated or new lighting districts, with other districts to be retrofit as budgets allow. Fixtures are being installed by Niagara Mohawk, which is also under contract with the town of Amherst to perform all maintenance. Units are inspected daily, with the Amherst Highway Department offering a 24-hour call-in service to report outages. Burned out lamps are replaced immediately.

“The RSL 350 units have met our objectives as far as performance and appearance are concerned,” Chase concluded. “Residents in various districts—including some of the more upscale neighborhoods—have voiced their satisfaction.”


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