Storms possible this weekend

Copper wiring thieves leave Crosstown drivers in the dark

OKLAHOMA - Aaron McRee travels the I-40 crosstown at 5 every morning on his way to work.

He’s frustrated with the lack of light.

“It’s very dark, especially when you get past this bridge here. Around the curve, it’s very dark there. And, then the glare from oncoming traffic sometimes is a bit to overcome,” McRee said. “It’s a very unsafe issue right now and something that should be dealt with sooner than later. But, it’s gone on several years now, and nothing seems to have happened.”

“We have heard from quite a few citizens who are concerned that it’s so dark on the crosstown corridor and also the boulevard,” said Brenda Perry with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

ODOT officials said thieves stealing the copper wiring from the lights is the problem.

And, in fact, it’s kept the lights off more often than they’ve been on.

The lights first came on January of 2012.

By fall of 2013, the copper wiring had been stolen and they were out.

The state fixed them in 2014, and they stayed on for four months before being vandalized again.

They were fixed again in 2015 and only stayed on for two months that time.

And, they’ve been dark ever since.

"It is a money issue. We are not able to just go out and repair these lights as part of a regular maintenance project," Perry said.

The light repairs will be part of a larger project set to be bid next month.

If all goes well, the lights will hopefully be shining again by early 2018.

And, they’re planning additional anti-theft measures to hopefully keep them on.

Drivers, like McRee, hope it works.

"It would be great if they could do that," he said.

The first two times the lights were fixed, it was a combined cost of $300,000.

This next time, the cost to fix the lighting will be around $500,000.

ODOT said they are planning to use aluminum wiring instead of copper this next time in hopes of making it less attractive to thieves.

Once that final project on the crosstown and boulevard is completed, the state will turn over control of the area to the city of Oklahoma City and they will then be responsible for the lights.