State Transportation officials have a faster timeline to restore lighting on Dallas area freeway construction zones.
The Stemmons Freeway north of downtown Dallas is one of several construction projects where night time highway lights that operated in the past are out.
Driver Irby Foster started complaining to city officials and the Texas Department of Transportation about it months ago.
“I think TxDOT’s response during this construction shows they’re arrogant and out of touch with what the public wants,” he said.
Headlights from oncoming traffic make it very difficult for drivers to see the dark pavement in certain places.
“They have lane shifts. They narrow the lanes of traffic. And it turns into a free for all for motorists to try and figure it out. Throw in some rain and fog and it’s terrible, treacherous conditions,” Foster said.
TxDOT Spokesperson Michelle Raglon said lights are out in areas where electricity had to be turned off for worker safety.
“We don’t want live wires out when people are working,” she said. “As soon as parts of a project are finished, and completed, and we can do it pretty fast, depending on weather, we can move to a different area and turn lights on.”
Foster is a handy man who travels around North Texas on freeways at all hours. He works with electricity himself and said he does not want construction workers to be injured.
“There’s safe, code compliant ways that they could turn these lights on tonight,” Foster said. “It comes down to money. They don’t want to spend the money.”
Since a December NBC 5 report on the issue, staff members from the office of State Representative Rafael Anchia drove the dark freeways, agreed there is a concern and spoke with top TxDOT officials from the Dallas District.
Raglon now says TxDOT is working to restore the lights sooner than the years it will take to finish the construction, especially on the Stemmons Freeway.
“We are working with the city. We believe that will happen within a couple of months,” Raglon said. “We realize that people like the lights. Someone has to pay for the lighting.”
Cities are expected to cover the cost of electricity and maintenance once lights are installed. Dallas was already paying for lights on these freeways so there is a savings on electricity while they are out.
Raglon said lighting the entire length of a road is an enhancement that is not required for basic safety. She said inspectors travel the construction area nightly to see that required lane reflectors and reflective signs are in place. While construction is underway, Raglon said drivers should slow down.
“I really believe that when it’s all said and done, that it’s going to be a much improved, much better roadway. It’s a temporary inconvenience for all of us,” Raglon said.
Foster said he is pleased to hear the State Representative asked questions.
“I think that pressure is helping but more people need to complain,” he said.