City greening hits a few bumps in the road

Mayor Nutter and a bevy of politicians and officials too numerous to name were just out at 52nd and Chestnut streets, heralding the start of a $6 million project to replace 55,000 green and yellow incandescent bulbs in city traffic signals with energy-saving LED arrays. (The reds were done a decade ago.)

The money is coming not from city coffers, but from a federal grant and a PECO payment. But the city is expecting to save $1 million a year in electricity costs because of the new bulbs.

But there was a cloud on all the glad-handing, during which the mayor posed for photos with city workers and passers-by and helped a little old lady using a walker across the street. Hours before, the city controller had released a report criticizing the purchase of solar-powered sidewalk trash compactors called Big Bellies. He said that the city paid more than it had to and that the devices were a big bust, not working as they were supposed to.

Streets Commission Clarena I.W. Tolson begged to differ. She said the city got the best deal possible and that the Big Bellies are working splendidly, gulping down trash like champions and compacting it so that city workers don't have to empty them as often -- again, a money-savings.

Look for a story with more details in tomorrow's paper.