Q&A on the News

Q: Why are so many of the streetlights on the Downtown Connector not working? There are many along the I-85 corridor as well.

—Hoke Kimball, Atlanta

A: Many of the lights along stretches of interstate within Atlanta's city limits fell into disrepair after budget cuts left no money to fix them.

“In the economic downturn of 2007, funding was not available to address needed repair of interstate lights that were malfunctioning, past their life cycle or vandalized,” a city of Atlanta spokeswoman told Q&A on the News in an email. “Vandalism and theft of wiring and equipment is now the primary reason for interstate light outages and increases the cost of maintenance and repairs.”

When lights are installed as part of interstate highway construction, the Georgia Department of Transportation hands over responsibility for maintenance and upkeep to local jurisdictions, GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale told Q&A on the News.

The city has completed work on the lights from 1-75/85 South between I-20 and where the Downtown Connector splits, from I-85 North between the Connector and the city limits and from I-75 North between the Connector and the city limits.

Repair work is underway in phases along the remaining interstates within Atlanta.

City leaders expect to begin the work on the Downtown Connector this year, but the schedule depends on the extent of damage discovered in each phase, the spokeswoman wrote.

The city has a contract with Georgia Power to keep interstate lights working properly once they’re repaired.

To report a light outage, call the 311 customer service line, the city advises.

Allison Floyd with Fast Copy News Service wrote this column. Do you have a question? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).