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"When visitors come into the city, their first impression is driving the Interstates. When all the lights are out, it just looks like the city doesn't maintain its infrastructure, " Mike Waller told 11Alive's Rebecca Lindstom and Matt Pearl.
He once made the drive all the way down the Connector and back without a single working light.
"The street lights were out, and they never seemed to be getting fixed," Waller said.
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When he drives it now, the Chamblee resident still notices . He's not the only one looking for light. Viewers have raised their voice, saying "We need LIGHTS" and we "can't see anything at night". One even called Atlanta "the Detroit of the south".
"A lot of money is spent on the infrastructure, but it's not spent to maintain it," Waller said.
That's an issue we've covered for several years. In July 2012 an audit revealed 3000 lights in need of repair. Nearly two years later, the city has made some progress. This year's budget even lists as an accomplishment restoring "inoperable highway lights on I75/I85 and Buford Highway Connector." It hasn't happened yet.
With the fiscal year ending in just two months, we asked Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza about it.
"We are on track to completing that by this summer," Mendoza said.
Not by June. But by the end of the summer. Mendoza says again, the work has taken longer than expected. But he says the money is there, the contracts awarded and the work scheduled to begin. Drivers may not notice as much change downtown, there's plenty of ambient light.
Mendoza admitted Interstate 20 and 75 North are also still waiting to be fixed. For that, Mendoza says he'll need another 1.7 million dollars. Not just for the repairs but also the maintenance to keep all the lights working. He said he there was support to make it happen.
Several city council members have pledged their support.
"Anytime our citizens are driving through our city we need to do everything we can to make sure they areas as safe as possible and that clearly pertains to lights on the interstate," Council woman Mary Norwood said.
The city council has yet to vote on the final piece of the funding, Commissioner Mendoza says he is confident, 2014 will be the year of the lights.
You can contact Atlanta City Council members to let them know what you want to do about Atlanta's dark street lights:
Kwanza Hall email@example.com 404-330-6038
C.T. Martin firstname.lastname@example.org 404-330-6055
Mary Norwood email@example.com 404-330-6302
Alex Wan firstname.lastname@example.org 404-330-6049
Felicia Moore email@example.com 404-330-6044
Ceaser Mitchell firstname.lastname@example.org 404-330-6052
Carla Smith email@example.com 404-330-6039
Ivory Lee Young firstname.lastname@example.org 440-330-6046
Cleta Winslow email@example.com 404-330-6047
Natalyn Archibong firstname.lastname@example.org 404-330-6048
Howard Shook email@example.com 404-330-6050
Yolanda Adrean firstname.lastname@example.org 404-330-6051
Andre Dickens email@example.com 404-330-6041
Michael Julian Bond firstname.lastname@example.org 404-330-6770
Joyce Sheperd email@example.com 404-330-6053
Keisha Lance Bottoms firstname.lastname@example.org 404-330-6054