WXYZ investigation prompts MDOT to fix broken highway lights

(WXYZ) - An investigation by WXYZ-TV into broken highway lights in southeastern Michigan has prompted the Michigan Department of Transportation to announce a sweeping effort to repair approximately 1,300 lights by the end of the summer.

"We're going to spend four million dollars to address this problem in the next 6 months,” MDOT Director Kirk Steudle said in an interview with Channel 7’s Simon Shaykhet. “It'll be a combination of additional electricians and additional contractors.”

MDOT maintains approximately 11,000 lights on highways in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and St. Clair counties. WXYZ discovered approximately 3,500 are not working, leaving miles of area highways dangerously dark.

While MDOT’s chief electrician for southeast Michigan said aging infrastructure is largely to blame for the outages, he also told WXYZ he did not have the resources to make necessary repairs.

“We’re putting band aids on a problem,” Richard Antuna said in a Jan. 22nd interview with Shaykhet, explaining he only had five electricians and $2.5 million budget to repair the lights. "I would love to tell you in six months I will change the world but that's not going to happen," he said at the time.

MDOT hopes to change that.

"What you're pointing out is exactly spot on, this is the tip of the iceberg," Steudle said of WXYZ’s investigation. "What you did was highlight the fact that we have an infrastructure problem in this state and the way we fund that infrastructure."

Steudle told WXYZ his goal is to have 80 percent of highways lights working by the end of the summer.

"We are hiring six more electricians and two more maintenance workers on a temporary basis to help address this problem,” he said. “Those interviews have already happened and we're in the process of hiring those folks right now."

Repairs are scheduled to begin March 24 on a stretch of I-96 from I-275 to Telegraph.


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