Keeping 277 lit is an expensive problem

The North Carolina department of transportation reports 32 of 106 lights out on I-277 between McDowell and Seventh Streets.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports 32 of 106 lights out on I-277 between McDowell and Seventh Streets.

“It's a constant effort to keep them maintained and keep them on. And we're finding that it's a very expensive fix,” said NCDOT Communications Officer Jen Thompson.

NBC Charlotte pulled the crash reports for that stretch of roadway. There have been 56 crashes there since April 1 of this year; ten of them happened at night. It is unclear if lighting, or the lack thereof, was a factor.

“We've been trying for years to go out and do what maintenance we can when it happens or within a reasonable time frame after it happens. The biggest problem we have is budget,” said Thompson.

NCDOT said it cost several thousand dollars for them to re-lamp lights, after factoring in costs of labor, mobilizing equipment, and lane closures.

Unfortunately, drivers won't be seeing any change anytime soon.

“This section of 277 is not going to be repaired right now. Simply for the fact that it's not feasible for us to continue to do it know that at some point it's going to fail again in the near future,” Thompson explained.

The department will begin work to install LED lighting statewide next spring, with the hope of completing the entire state in 16 months.

The benefits of led lights are lower energy consumption and lower maintenance.

Until then, NCDOT said there's not much it can do, but if you feel unsafe while you're out on the roads, they want to know about it.

“We rely on folks like the viewer who wrote in because we have a lot of roadway to cover, a lot of lighting to cover, but we don't have a lot of people to cover these areas. So folks that are our eyes can let us know when they see a trouble spot and make us aware of it."

NCDOT believes the majority of lights went out over the last month, due to a few storms.

But the outages could also be caused by animals or deterioration.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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