AUSTIN (KXAN) — For months, more than a dozen light poles along Cesar Chavez Street near MoPac Expressway have been out.
Mickey Ferguson, a south Austin resident, said he first noticed the issue last fall after he started commuting through the oft-used intersection for a new job.
“Hundreds, maybe thousands of cars, that go through this intersection every day,” he said of the busy road that serves as a gateway for downtown.
More than a dozen light poles have not been working leaving Ferguson and his fellow commuters in the dark as they drive in the early morning or late night hours.
Ferguson says he initially thought, “well, it’s just some bulbs burnt out.” But he quickly realized it was more than that.
He says he contacted the city and was told the light poles were the responsibility of the Texas Department of Transportation. He says he then called TxDOT only to be sent back to the city.
“A lot of back and forth,” he said. “I was just so concerned about safety.”
Ferguson then contacted KXAN through ReportIt.
“I would just like to see somebody fix them,” he said. “Somebody step up and say these are our lights and we’re going to get them fixed.”
KXAN looked into the problem and found the lights are operated and maintained by the city, specifically Austin Energy; However, the state owns the lights. The partnership is made possible through a local Municipal Maintenance Agreement with the State.
Turns out, a TxDOT contractor accidentally cut the wires that keep the lights on while on the job.
“I was so scared this was just going to linger on and someone was going to die, I mean I really did think it would take a serious accident or a death to get something done,” Ferguson said.
TxDOT officials told KXAN they will start repairs this week and said it should be completed by the end of the month.
If you see something similar along the highway, you can call Austin 311. In the last six months, the city received over 2,600 service requests involving light poles with lights out. Austin 311 officials said those requests are sent over to Austin Energy Illumination to follow up and address the complaint.
Austin Energy said they have 12 people who maintain about 65,000 light poles around the city. In March alone, crews got 524 service requests. About 500 of those requests were completed within three days. They said some service requests can consist of anywhere between one and 10 lights.