Outdoor night lighting in Lexington, MA: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Below is a list compiled in April 1997 (and revised in later months) of good and bad lighting in Lexington, Massachusetts, by Daniel and Andrew Green. We encourage others to compile similar lists for their communities and to distribute them locally; we will also post such lists here on the NELPAG Web site if sent to us. Single-residence housing was deleted from consideration. Most street lighting was also omitted because the Town of Lexington is planning to fully convert to full-cutoff streetlighting in the near future; nonetheless, one example each of really good streetlighting and really bad streetlighting is given below. There are, of course, numerous examples of both good and bad lighting in Lexington that are not on this list; as our attention is called to the more illustrative examples in each category, we will add them to the list. Residents of metro-Boston are encouraged to tour Lexington to look both at the list below and to look at the test-lighting project established by the Town of Lexington and Boston Edison (a first-of-its-kind project in the U.S., to our knowledge). See the NELPAG Circulars for further information.

An asterisk below indicates examples of both good and bad lighting at the same location; this shows that much of the good lighting out there is purely accidental, as far as the local landowners are concerned. Two asterisks indicates severe disability glare for motorists, capable of causing accidents. Three asterisks are the worst-lit areas in Lexington (most dangerous, most obnoxious). We are told that the Highland store (#) has some bad lights that are temporarily burned out (or turned off); if they are re-installed as glary fixtures, they will be placed into the "Bad" list. We will gladly change the status of sites with bad lighting when the lighting is fixed properly.

The most remarkable thing about the list below is that the very worst-lit place is next-door to the very best-lit place in all of Lexington: The Lexington Office Park, next to the Route 128 exit ramp off of Bedford Street, has exceptionally good lighting throughout its complex (driveway, parking-lot, and building-mounted lighting is all full-cutoff and of proper, respectable lumen output). The complex including the Denny's restaurant and the Holiday Inn motel, directly next door to the Office Park, has unbelievably bad lighting --- high-pressure-sodium lights of way-too-high wattage that are directed out into the surrounding neighborhood and into the roadways, creating both obnoxious/rude glare to the surrounding residents and dangerous disability glare to motorists. The lights at Denny's and the Holiday Inn need to be totally changed into full-cutoff fixtures that have about 1/5 the wattage of the existing fixtures and are pointed directly downward (and not outward in any manner); the complex is overly lit, and could probably stand the complete elimination of several outdoor lights anyway. This is a textbook example of good vs. bad lighting (Lexington Office Park vs. Denny's/Holiday Inn)!


420 Bedford St.            Lexington Office Park     driveway, parking lot, bldg.
1 Maguire Rd.              office building           parking lot lighting
Solomon Pierce Rd.         residential street        aesthetically-lit full-cutoff
       near Maple St.
east Lexington*            Wilson Farm*              when closed (lights off)
33 Hayden Ave.             Mercer Management Consult.   parking lot
55 Hayden Ave.*            W.R. Grace office bldg.*  driveway/parking lot/
                                                        bldg. entrance
Marret Rd. and Waltham St. Highland grocery store#   sign#


Worthen Rd./Mass. Ave.     Museum Nat. Heritage      parking lot/bldg.
55 Hayden Ave.*            W.R. Grace office bldg.*   unshielding parking-lot
                                                      lots and bldg-mounted ones
Worthen Rd./Bedford St.    Stop&Shop/Walgreens/      parking lots (particularly
                               Friendly's complexes   lights on highest poles)
center of town             St. Brigids church        parking lot
187 Bedford St.            Phillip Ciampa salon      parking lot
Mass. Ave./Maple St.       Shell gas station         entire complex
Mass. Ave., town center    Hancock church            street entrance to lot
Waltham St., town center   Vyne Brook Village        driveway/parking lot
Mass. Ave. at Arlington line   street                horrendous HPS street lights
Mass. Ave., east Lexington   Town Food Store         entrance
south Lexington            Clarke Middle School      parking lot
Mass. Maintainance Depot   west Lexington, at        complex
                             intersection of Routes
                             128 and 2A

THE BAD (i.e., the worst)::

Bedford St. off Route 128  Denny's/Holiday Inn       all parking lots***
Concord Ave./Waltham St.   Chadwick's ice cream      parking lot***
Hartwell Ave.              Instrumentation Lab.      roadway entrance***
center of town             Lexington High School     all parking lots***
Routes 4/225*              Wilson Farm*              parking lot***
Worthen Rd.                Grace Chapel              bldg., parking lots**
Worthen Rd.                Hayden Recreation Ctr.    parking lots**
121 Hartwell Ave.          Varian (office bldg.)     roadway entrance**
3 Worthen Rd./Waltham St.  Captain Parker apartments  bldg/driveway/parking lots
Mass. Ave. east Lexington  Berman's Liquor Mart      parking lot/bldg.
Route 128 rest area        Shell Oil/Roy Roger's     parking lot**
Sheraton Tara Inn          west Lexington, Rt. 2A    entrance signs, driveway

(1997 Oct. 8)