Even headlights aren't enough to light up the darkened outskirts of Cape Girardeau along North Kingshighway as motorists head into the city at night.
But that should change by early next year as the city completes a $177,000 project to install 61 street lights along 1.4 miles of Kingshighway from Interstate 55 to the south entrance of Boulder Crest. The route borders two county parks, the veterans home and Memorial Park Cemetery.
City officials said the street lights are being erected primarily to improve visibility and traffic safety, but also should dress up the entrance to the city.
"It will be nice. You will hit the city limits to Cape Girardeau and -- boom -- it will be well lit," said Matthew Ryan, special projects coordinator with the city's public works department.
The project involves the installation of 35-foot-tall fiberglass poles and 250-watt light fixtures. "They are strong," Ryan said of the poles. "They can withstand up to 120-mph winds."
The project is one of many street lighting projects the city has funded with transportation sales tax trust fund money.
The city so far has committed nearly $626,000 to street light work as part of the transportation improvements promised when voters approved a five-year extension of the sales tax in August 2000. The city expects to spend another $874,000 from the trust fund on still more street lighting work.
The city buys the poles directly from the manufacturer to save money, Ryan said.
The contractor, Cotner Electric, buried the electric cable on both sides of the road over the past few months.
"They just started putting up the poles about two weeks ago," Ryan said. As of Thursday, 24 light poles had been erected.
The contractor has until early February to complete the project, but the work could be finished by early January, he said.
The I-55 and North Kingshighway interchange will be lit up next year as well. The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to do the road lighting work with upfront financing from the cities of Cape Girardeau and Jackson. MoDOT then would reimburse the cities in fiscal 2007.
As for the city of Cape Girardeau, it also plans to erect street lights on South Kingshighway next year. The project will involve installation of 37 street lights along the major thoroughfare from just south of Southern Expressway to the Interstate 55 on-ramps.
"We will probably start in the late winter or early spring," Ryan said. The project should be completed by summer, providing a well-lit, north-south corridor through the city, Ryan said.
Mayor Jay Knudtson said the city's continuing efforts to light up the streets should pay dividends in crime prevention as well as traffic safety. "All indications are street lights are the biggest single deterrent we have to crime," he said.
The city now installs street lights as part of new road projects. But years ago, many streets were built without street lights or with an inadequate number of lights.
That's being corrected thanks to revenue from the city's transportation sales tax trust fund. "We needed to play some catch up," planning and zoning commissioner Harry Rediger said.
335-6611, extension 123