RICHMOND (KPIX 5) — People in Richmond are saying that some newly installed LED lights are glowing so brightly that they can’t sleep. Richmond mayor Tom Butt is now demanding action.
The lights shine at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway yard. When the sun sets in Richmond, the yard shines like a football stadium.
“Looks like Las Vegas. The sky’s almost gone,” said Richmond resident Dave Schoenthal.
“The light is so bright, I can read a book in my backyard,” said Mayor Tom Butt.
Butt labeled the lights’ intrusive brightness “light trespassing,” saying that the beams invade people’s homes at night by shining into their windows as they are trying to sleep.
The mayor is concerned that the bright LED lights could cause health problems and distract drivers.
“Hundreds of people are just up in arms about this. They’re talking about having to put blackout curtains on their windows. It impairs their driving while they’re on I-580 or the main arterials that go through that area,” said Butt.
A Burlington spokesperson told KPIX 5 that the railroad recently replaced its lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs “to maintain compliance with federal safety regulations and energy conservation.”
Mayor Butt has given the railyard a deadline–September 17–to address the problem. If Burlington does not address the bright lights, the city will issue a fine of $1,000 per day that it is not resolved.
“And you know, they’ll fight it. We’ve done this before. The city and BNSF have been in litigation over many issues for many, many years. These guys are not a good citizen, I’ve got to tell you. They are not the people you want for your neighbor,” said Butt.
The railway said that it has placed shields over some of the lights, but neighbors of the yard said that the shields haven’t made much of a difference at all.
The railway is under federal jurisdiction, so they are not under the purveyance of the city of Richmond.
Both sides–the rail yard and its neighbors– stated that they are talking about the issue and are trying to work toward an agreement.