Dallas-Owned Overhead Electronic Signs Sit Dark During Severe Weather

Drivers who are on the highways and interstates in North Texas pay close attention to overhead electronic message signs warning them of weather danger and upcoming traffic accidents.

But some signs are sitting dark.

The Texas Department of Transportation has many electronic signs on freeways and interstates that post lots of messages, especially when there's a risk of severe weather.

The city of Dallas owns at least four "electronic dynamic message signs." They were expensive to install and they haven't posted any messages in years.

"Huge bags of money going to waste. I mean that's taxpayer dollars," said Pleasant Grove homeowner Nicole Tate. "They work! Why are we not using them?"

Tate drives by three of the four unused signs every day. She's frustrated and she says she's tried getting answers from the city about why their signs don't work.

"There are so many things they can be used for. Amber Alerts, Silver Alerts, weather alerts, accidents, traffic issues," she said.

There are four Dallas-owned electronic signs along Loop 12 in Pleasant Grove.

Tate says they went up about seven years ago, and they've been used only twice: for initial testing and once to warn of a crash.

"They're as big as the TxDOT signs and they're sitting there wasted," she said. "We need signs that work here. Just because it's the Grove doesn't mean there aren't intelligent people here who could use those signs. They put them up for a reason."

After reaching out to two Dallas City Council members who forwarded on her complaints, Tate last week got a response from a city engineer via e-mail. She shared the response with NBC 5.

"Since the analog technology used in the cameras and signs is now obsolete and not compatible with the new digital equipment being used by TxDOT, making a direct feed of TxDOT messages to the city's signs is not possible," wrote Auro Majumdar, the city's Assistant Director of Transportation Operations. "We do not have enough staff to monitor TxDOT feeds of their messages…as a result, the city's signs are used only in emergencies."

"I question that explanation. I think it's a bureaucratic, 'Tell them this thing, then they'll go away and leave it alone,' kind of thinking," Tate said.

The city said the sign posts were expensive to install and future technological updates may mean the signs can be used more frequently.

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