The Watchdog

Drivers may pay when light poles get dinged

Updated: 2013-12-28T04:52:36Z

The problem

When he drives by a light pole that has been knocked down — and it happens at least monthly — Richard Robinson wonders if Kansas City recovers damages from negligent drivers who damage infrastructure.

“If somebody hit something in my yard, I would want them to pay,” said Robinson, who lives in southwest Kansas City. “Look at the whole city, it’s our yard.”

The answer

At least as far as light poles are concerned, negligent drivers can be held responsible.

Kansas City has a maintenance contract on the streetlights with Black & McDonald, and it covers replacement of any damaged lights.

The city says the firm has the right to collect damages, based on information provided by the city or obtained from the Police Department, and those recoveries are reflected in the pricing for streetlight repairs.

The Watchdog runs from responsibility whenever possible, but when others are to blame, it’s only right that they should pay.

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 Include your name, phone number and city of residence.

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