Jan 4, 2012 11:14 PM by John Romero
Just last month 61 year old milk truck driver Billy Reed rolled his semi on I-25 near the Bijou exit. He later died. While the accident as a whole is still under investigation, there is at least one glaring problem we found on that road... lots of darkness. "All of the lights are now off which we don't agree with. We would like to get them back on." explains Dave Krauth, City Traffic Engineer for Colorado Springs.
It's no secret the City of Colorado Springs turned off thousands of street lights back in early 2010 in order to help a budget problem. But not all of the lights along this stretch of highway are supposed to be out. "We did have some lights that were deactivated. We worked with CDOT to identify which lights to turn off." explains Krauth, "But we've obviously had a very large amount of impact from wire theft."
These lights account for only a few of the estimated 450 around the city that have had the wires stolen from them. The new 2012 city budget does have money set aside to fix the lights. But it's not as easy as changing a bulb. "It's not a simple switch." says Krauth, "It's not a simple piece of wire."
On average the lights cost between $1,000 and $1,500 to repair according to the city. But those numbers could go a lot higher in areas like I-25 due to lane closures and more sophisticated systems. "It might be longer expanses of wire. It might be a different type of a feed system in to that specific string of lights." explains Krauth.
We drove the road ourselves. It's pretty easy to see right away that there's a big lack of light along the bigger curves in the highway. The city tells us they're working with CDOT and Springs Utilities to fix the problem. They hope to have the lights back on by the end of June.
The city did warn us to be on the lookout for people who may be stealing the copper wires inside the street lights. They often look very professional, wearing a hard hat and reflective vest. But only Colorado Springs Utilities works on the lights. If the truck you see doesn't have a CSU logo, there's a good chance it's a crook and you should call police.