The Public Eye

The Public Eye: Sacramento says it cut backlog of disabled streetlights

Published: Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012 - 1:57 pm

The problem: The city of Sacramento's Department of Transportation promises to repair streetlights extinguished by copper thieves within 90 days and encourages residents to promptly report nonfunctioning lights.

A Bee reader noticed a few days ago that the streetlights on the H Street Bridge over the American River were not working. He said the control box at the west end appeared to have been vandalized, and cut wires were hanging out of open wiring boxes at the base of each light pole.

The solution: Linda Tucker, spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, said the damage had been reported and repairs are slated for January. She said the covers for the openings that allow access to the wiring were stolen. Crews immediately took measures to shut off power and secure wires so they pose no threat to the public.

The department reported earlier this month that it has significantly reduced the backlog of streetlight repairs since the City Council in April approved $2 million in funding to hire three additional electrical contractors.

Copper wire thefts had left 150 neighborhoods in the dark with waiting lists for repairs extending up to 12 months. Streetlights now have been repaired in all 150 neighborhoods, except for those on nonresidential or vacant property, officials said.

Since 2010, copper thieves have damaged an estimated 18,800 streetlights in Sacramento. As of early December, the city had spent more than $1.45 million on repairs.

In April, the city put online an interactive map showing areas where nonfunctioning streetlights have been reported and indicating the month in which repairs are expected to be made. A second map shows sites that have been repaired.

To view the maps, see the Department of Transportation website at

Click on "Street Services" on the left side of the page, and on "Street Lighting" in the pop-up menu.

To report streetlight problems, call 311, or email

Residents with Android or iPhones also can download the 311 app from the city's home page at

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Cathy Locke

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