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Portland Bureau of Transportation

We keep Portland moving

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Street Light Maintenance

Street Lights

The Transportation Bureau is responsible for the maintenance, repair, and upgrade of 8,500 City maintained roadway light fixtures and lighting systems, a $38 million capital investment. The Bureau does not maintain lighting on private property, including parking lots or driveways.


Contact: Street Light Outage Hotline
Phone: 503-865-LAMP (5267)

With proper maintenance and renewal, most street lights will last 30 years.  Decorative street lights last between 20 and 40 years. The pole on the decorative street light can last 90 years with proper maintenance. The pole that supports a cobra head is usually a utility pole and is the responsibility of the utilities, not the City.

The decorative lighting wiring systems are fed via underground cables that are starting to reach the end of their lives. Old lead cables are being replaced now, but many more need to be replaced. Ball type lights are no longer being made. As these get damaged, no replacements are available.

Most street lighting maintenance falls within these categories:

Preventative Maintenance

Inspections on the street lighting system & system control are performed annually. Re-lamping street lights occurs on a four or five year cycle or as outage frequency dictates. Re-lamping of street lights often involves extensive traffic control, lane and ramp closures, or off-hour shifts to work around light rail trains.

Street lights are refurbished by salvaging used or damaged street lighting equipment. Component parts are repaired or replaced, and fixtures are upgraded or modified to reduce future maintenance. Using recycled parts saves thousands of dollars over the cost of new materials.

Transportation must stock parts and lamps for the more than 60 different types of fixtures and poles installed around the city.


Response Repairs

Street light outages include re-lamping, replacement of parts, or upgrades if parts are unavailable. Response to outage reports involves troubleshooting problems in the power distribution system, photo cell replacement, and contactor repair or replacement. Outage reports come from citizens, police, as well as Transportation crews and inspectors.

Physical damage includes knock-downs of street lights or controllers and unintentional damage from dig-ups of the distribution conduits. Repairs may take minutes or days depending on the extent of the damage.


Upgrades and Modifications

The bureau is converting mercury vapor fixtures to high pressure sodium fixtures, which produce more light with less energy and are more reliable.

The bureau is upgrading the system controller by replacing obsolete controlling methods with magnetic contactors, greatly reducing system outages.

The modification of all types of street lights amounts to 80-100 street lights annually.


Utility Contractor Assistance

The bureau relocates poles and fixtures to accommodate the construction of new buildings or roadways. The bureau also relocates street lights or makes temporary installations of lighting distribution lines due to repairs and upgrades to underground electrical utility ducts, communications conduits, and gas company pipelines by construction and utility companies.