Jonestown mayor apologizes after man’s yearlong quest to fix broken streetlight

Travis County

JONESTOWN, Texas (KXAN) — For the past year, businessman David Panahi has been trying to get a street light outside a shopping center he manages in Jonestown fixed.

“First I did the online forum, and then I called and the person (at the Jonestown Public Works Department) said ‘We will pass it on and probably get it fixed in a month or so.'” And then, nothing,” Panahi said. “This had gone on for months. Then I called again and I was transferred to the director of services who I spoke to and he told me that he knew about it even before I reported it and that they had a lot of things going on and that they would get to it when they get to it, and that was six months ago.”

Frustrated, he reached out to KXAN via a ReportIt email.

“We pay the property taxes on the center of nearly $20,000. You expect something in return,” he said.

Panahi told KXAN the dead light outside his shopping center near Farm to Market Road 1431 and Austin Avenue in Jonestown is a safety issue.

“FM 1431 is busy. There are people from Lago Vista going all the way into Cedar Park to work,” he said.

Jonestown Mayor Paul Johnson agrees and apologized to Panahi for not taking care of the issue sooner. Johnson said he was unaware of the problem but said it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

“I’m upset we didn’t get him to the proper people. We should have gotten him to TxDOT,” Johnson said. “That’s not how we do business here. Normally, if it’s an issue, it normally gets to me and I don’t turn anybody away, so I do not know.”

KXAN did some digging and reached out to multiple agencies on Panahi’s behalf. The light in question is actually maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Johnson said these lights make a difference since traffic on FM 1431 has spiked up almost 800% in the past decade.

“Our highway [FM 1431] is dangerous, just like everyone else, and we need the lights out there,” Johnson said.

It’s another reason why Panahi’s determined to get the light fixed.

“I don’t want us talking next time and somebody gets killed out here,” Panahi said.

Multiple departments can be responsible for street lights. It can either be the city, electric company or TxDOT.

After KXAN contacted TxDOT, officials with the transportation department tell us they’ll send a crew to check out how many lights are out in the area and turn them on.

Austin light issues

Last year, KXAN looked into another light issue where more than a dozen light poles along Cesar Chavez Street near MoPac Expressway were out.

KXAN found out a TxDOT contractor had accidentally cut the wires that keep the lights on while on the job.

If you see something similar along the highway, you can call Austin 311.

In the last six months, the city received 3,459 service requests involving light poles with lights out. Austin 311 officials said some of those numbers could be duplicated because they track these requests in two ways: as a specific individual light report or a report where multiple light poles have been flagged.

Austin 311 officials said those requests are sent over to Austin Energy Illumination to follow up and address the complaint.

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