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Case study April 2024


The solar transformation of Highland’s Erie Lackawanna Trail



The over 17-mile Erie Lackawanna bike trail passes through a number of towns in Lake County, Indiana, connecting their communities through what is known as a “Rails to Trails” project. Part of a national effort in 1992, the trail sits on the former Erie Lackawanna Railroad track. Residents of Highland, Indiana wanted to adapt their section of the trail for safer usage.


To fully enjoy their section of the trial, the city of Highland collaborated with Sol by Sunna Design, Wesco Distribution, Hyre Electric, and KSA Lighting & Controls to ensure it was safe and usable at all hours. The city and its residents had a particular focus on sustainability, as the trail had become a hot spot for local flora and fauna, increasing the community’s requirement for an environmentally-friendly lighting solution.


  Park & Pathway

    Highland, Indiana 


Project Requirements


The city of Highland faced a number of challenges in the early stages of the project. Although the safety of the local residents was priority number one, traditional grid-powered lighting was not an option due to the presence of underground gas and water lines. Additionally, complex underground wiring would lengthen the timeline and invasiveness of the project, inflating the budget significantly.


The city required a solution that functioned independently of the grid with no underground wiring, was within their infrastructure budget, and provided residents with reliable, sustainable lighting.

Sol’s Solution


Sol began collaborating with its partners to design and implement a solution that met their requirements. The custom design plan included the use of UP2 and compact LED luminaires mounted on poles along the trail. These products were selected due to their specific technical specifications that would uniquely benefit the area, like an optic designed for pathways to increase spacing between the poles, and a warm-white 3000K LED color temperature that limits impacts to wildlife. In total, 70 solar lights were installed along the Highland section of the trail.


Highland officials and community members carefully evaluated all of their options but only one solution met all of their needs while remaining on budget. While stakeholders identified that Sol’s fixtures satisfied the project’s basic requirements, the reason they ultimately chose Sol’s solution was the fixture’s benefits to the surrounding community and environment. With in-depth product testing, low maintenance requirements, energy efficiency, and weather resilience, Sol’s products exceeded their expectations.

Projects Results


Since the project’s conclusion, the town of Highland’s officials and residents have expressed their full support of the new lighting. With a solar solution catered directly to their needs, the trail now has safer, more reliable, and more sustainable lighting that respects the community’s flora and fauna.


> Download a PDF version of this project summary

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