An ongoing shift by the muni to new outdoor lighting is giving residents more nighttime illumination – and saving taxpayers more money.

At Westchester Lagoon you can find many people enjoying the outdoors skating, cross-country skiing and fat-tire biking, as well as running or walking the trails.

"I love this trail because it is beautiful," said Meg Batson who was walking her dog on the trail. "No matter what direction you go in, from Kincaid Park to downtown, it's just a beautiful safe place to walk."

In winter, many locals spend recreational time on Anchorage's more than 250 miles of trails, but those byways need to be lit for longer hours on shorter days.

"All trails that we do have lit have old technology, high-pressure sodium fixtures, that use a fair amount of energy, that need to be replaced quite often," said Josh Durand, the muni's park superintendent.

The muni is modernizing those lights, including the purchase of 280 new smart LED lights to cover the Chester Creek Trail from Westchester to Valley of the Moon Park.

Durand says muni officials expect these lights to reduce energy costs by 43 percent, saving money which Durand can spend otherwise.

"With new technology, there are opportunities for energy savings; there's also opportunities for control with the new technology,” he said. “The new LED lights last up to 20 years, and they do provide much better directional lighting that's specifically designed."

Each light can be turned on and off individually. During the day, individual lights are activated by photo sensors based on the ambient lighting conditions.

“We know how important it is for Alaskans to be outside during the winter, and these lights help,” Durand said.

Outdoor enthusiasts already say these lights are making a world of difference.

"There are all kinds of activities that can be done in the winter because of the lighted trails,” said Tim Carolson, out cross country skiing with his son. “So I think that's what makes Anchorage outstanding."

Others say they help people see the snow better.

"They're nice; you can see the variations in the trail," said Gail Sieberts while she was walking her dog.

The greatest improvement, however, is to residents' safety while they're recreating.

"It lights up the trail,” said Hal Manning, out walking with his wife. “I can see where I'm going, make sure a moose isn't out there. I would like to see him before we get upon him."

Campbell Creek Trail, Ship Creek Trail, and Bicentennial Park are next on the muni's list for LED light installations.

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