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Atlanta needs $1M to keep drivers out of the dark

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Video: 11pm: Broken Lights Along ATL Interstates Can Be Dangerous

Streetlights may go dark in Athens


REPORTER TRANSPARENCY LOG
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Rebecca Lindstrom Log for July 17, 2012


ATLANTA -- If the freeways through Atlanta have seemed a little dark lately, the city says you can thank thieves for that. 

On Tuesday, the public works department gave us a list of broken lights, courtesy either missing wires or vandalism.

11Alive News started asking questions about the lights after a fatal accident on the I-85 17th Street off-ramp prompted a viewer to write in, wondering if broken lights in the area played a role.

Atlanta Police say 31-year old Ronnie Bascom hit a guardrail at the base of the ramp at around 2:15 a.m. Tuesday and got out of his car to check the damage.  That's when investigators say Joshua Taylor hit him, slamming his own car into an embankment before it burst in flames. Taylor was pulled out of his vehicle and treated at Grady Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

Police have charged him with homicide by vehicle and DUI less safe, but Ciandress Jackson believes the situation would have been different had the lights in the area been working.

"Sometimes there's cars on the side that are disabled and you don't see them until the last minute.  So it's unfortunate but it's not surprising that that happened in that particular area," Jackson said.

Jackson first noticed problems with the lights along Atlanta's freeways last December when an officer was hit while responding to a call on the Downtown Connector. The DOT traffic video is virtually black on the side of the accident, even though there were plenty of lights in the area.

"I would hope the city would look into it and do the right thing so people can navigate around the city a little easier," Jackson said.

The city says it has looked into the problem and agrees there are a lot of lights out in the city.  It says thieves and vandals have damaged: 

*120 lights along I-75 from Mt. Paran Road to Paces Ferry Road.

*40 lights on I-20 from Lucile Avenue to Lee Street. 

*60 lights on I-85 from Cleveland Avenue to Sylvan Road. 

*20 lights on University Avenue from Fulton Street to the I-20 ramp. 

The city admits there may be more damaged lights. It has asked Georgia Power to perform a complete damage assessment and help with the repair work. The public works department estimates it will cost $800,000 to fix the lights and another $250,000 a year to maintain them. 

In a statement to 11Alive, the department says it does have the money set aside to perform the repairs once the audit is complete.  It hopes to have the work done by the end of the year.

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