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Drivers ‘Curious’ Why Some Highways Are So Dark

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Drivers 'Curious' Why Some Highways Are So DarkWBZ

Whoever heard of an interstate highway with no lights? That’s the daily, dark reality for thousands of Boston area commuters. Nate from Lynn went to WBZ’s Curiosity Web page to vent, asking: “Why are the lights on I-93 no longer working? The road is completely in the dark.”

We first reported on this problem back in June, and it’s still there. Anyone who drives that highway knows how dark it can be, especially when there aren’t a lot of cars on the road.

WBZ went out again to see if there’s any light on the horizon.

Nate Diaz, one of our viewers who brought this issue to our attention, regularly travels Rt. 93 north of Boston at night. “I see a lot of lights burnt out,” he says.

In fact, he sees miles and miles of lights, not lit. “It seems like nobody has been replacing them,” he says.

And it’s been getting worse year by year. Call it darkness at the edge of town. “I don’t think I would like to break down on a section of this road where the lights were out,” says Diaz. “Someone could come up and rear-end you, you couldn’t see what you were doing,” he adds.

To find out what’s wrong with the lights, WBZ went to see Frank Tramontozzi. He’s the chief engineer for the state’s Department of Transportation. “The lights are 50-year-old technology. The wiring has been wet over the years. Between the freeze and thaw cycles, it has damaged the wiring system,” says Tramontozzi.

And that means you can’t make a joke about how many state workers it takes to change a light bulb, because the entire lighting system needs to be ripped out. “Poles come down, new poles go up, new lighting, underground wiring,” says Tramontozzi.

But the lights have been out for a long time, and a lot of you tell WBZ that makes for a risky ride. Stacy from Melrose went to our Curiosity site and says: “Why and how is this OK to not have these lights? This is so dangerous.”

WBZ asked the chief engineer whether he agrees the highway is dangerous without the lights. “We agree. If the lighting is there it should be operational,” he says.

But it won’t be for a while.

Here’s the schedule: They’ve just started working on the stretch from Boston to Roosevelt Circle in Medford. That will be lit sometime next year.

But it will be 2011 before the lights are on all the way up to Rt. 128 — even longer on the Expressway south of Boston.

Kevin from Plymouth drives that route and says: “This is very dangerous, especially inside the HOV lane.”

But don’t hold your breath. That section won’t be done until 2012.

You’re telling us you what to know why this job has been ignored. “The ball was dropped over the years by administrations that did not want to invest in the infrastructure,” says Tramontozzi.

But he says the Patrick administration is changing that, but patience is a very big requirement.

The price tag for the projects? For the first phase it’s $12-$13 million.

Make your voice heard. Add your comments to this story, or read what others have to say.

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