CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There are major developments to light up the interstates you drive on.
On Tuesday, the North Carolina Department of Transportation showed off the beginning of a multi-million dollar project to replace thousands of lights on local interstates. It comes after NBC Charlotte reported on dark stretches of major highways in the Queen City.
NCDOT is planning to replace 3,000 lights in the Charlotte area. Some of the lights have been burned out for as long as a year, according to NDOT.
NBC Charlotte previously demonstrated the dark drive down I-277, where you could see what it looked like with and without bright headlights.
However, now there’s a sound of progress. NCDOT has started to replace thousands of old bulbs on I-85.
“We’ve got one-third of the lighting in the entire state in Mecklenburg County,” said Dave Davis with NCDOT.
However, transportation officials say about 30 percent of those current lights are burned out.
“They’ll notice a big improvement in the overall lighting,” said Davis.
But why has there been a delay in replacing the lights? NCDOT said part of it comes down to money. As part of the 15-year, statewide contract, crews will replace old lights with more cost-efficient LED units.
“Why spend $100,000 to re-lamp this whole section, when in three months the whole thing would be torn out and replaced with LEDs? ” asked Davis.
“This is going to be a big money saver for the state,” says Jen Thompson with NCDOT.
The new contract also requires the company to have 90 percent of the lights operating properly at all times. Hopefully, less time driving in the dark means a safer road ahead.
“I’m an electrician, I’m not a guru on the safety aspects, but I would think so,” says Davis.
The project is expected to wrap up in the Charlotte area in the spring. You can expect road closures to start in the next few weeks.