The Watchdog

I-70 driver curses the darkness

Updated: 2013-12-14T00:26:09Z

The problem

Roger Hershey, who lives in Independence and works at Park University, has counted at least 50 dark streetlights on Interstate 70 between the downtown Kansas City loop and U.S. 40.

“They have been dark for weeks. This is dangerous,” Hershey said. “What is the excuse? More importantly, when are the lights to be turned on again?”

The answer

About 200 streetlights are out along I-70 between the Kansas line and Interstate 435, said the Missouri Department of Transportation’s district traffic engineer, Laurel McKean. However, the I-70 corridor is next on the list for restoring lighting outages, and the agency hopes to have those bulbs burning again by mid-January.

The lights go out for many reasons, from dead bulbs to copper thieves breaking into the poles and stealing the wire. MoDOT said it maintains more than 4,000 lights in the nine-county Kansas City district, plus 580 traffic signals, and up to 20 percent might be out at any given time.

“Because this work is so near a busy interstate, it’s more complicated than ‘How many workers does it take to screw in a light bulb?’ Our lighting and electrician crews need protection. We must coordinate with our maintenance crews to ensure that we can install the proper lane drops and move high-speed traffic away from our workers and equipment to keep workers and motorists safe,” said MoDOT spokesman Steve Porter.

The Watchdog says he’s always happy to throw a little light on this subject.

Do you have a problem or a question about a public issue? Write to the Watchdog, The Kansas City Star, Newsroom, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108, or send email to watchdog@kcstar.com. Include your name, phone number and city of residence.

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