Brighter lights for Detroit's metro region

Michigan’s DOT has picked a Star America-led team to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the freeway lighting system in Detroit’s metro area.

Michigan’s Department of Transportation (MDOT) is relying on the private sector to upgrade and maintain the approximately 15,000 freeway lights in Detroit’s tri-county area, naming Freeway Lighting Partners (FLP), a consortium led by Star America Infrastructure Partners, as preferred bidder for the project.

FLP, which includes Aldridge Electric, Parsons Brinkerhoff and Cofely Services, will design, build, finance operate and maintain, over a 15-year term, the freeway lighting system in the Detroit Metro Region. One of the stipulations included in the public-private partnership (PPP; P3) agreement, requires FLP to keep 90 percent of the lights operational after the first year and 98 percent after the second year, MDOT said in a statement.

Currently, close to 70 percent of the freeway lights are working. “Much of this is due to fiscal constraints, multiple instances of copper theft, and other challenges,” MDOT said.

“Taxpayers will save as the annual cost of the services under this contract is expected to be lower than what MDOT would have to pay for upgrades,” the state agency said but did not disclose project costs nor the amount of savings state taxpayers could expect. MDOT did not respond to a request for comment.

MDOT began exploring the possibility of partnering with the private sector in July 2013 when it sought expressions of interest for this and other transportation projects, including two rest areas, bridge work and timber management.