Thieves have cost the City of Tulsa millions of dollars and hours of manpower repairing street lights along Tulsa’s dark highways.
Thieves have been stealing copper wiring from street lights for years. Now, the City hopes their most recent project stops the problem for good.
Terry Ball with the City of Tulsa said the repairs have had to be done on nearly every single major roadway or highway in Tulsa, costing taxpayers millions.
Ball: "A little under $10 million by the time we're all done.”
Erin: “Because of thieves?”
Ball: “Because of thieves. They've brought the system down, and, basically, we're having to rebuild it from scratch."
Thieves have targeted street lights for years, looking for copper wire to trade for cash.
"It's very frustrating, but the good thing is most of them have been arrested," Ball said.
The City is also taking some preventative measures, like installing aluminum wire instead of copper.
"We've had a few people cut it, realize it's not copper, and since then they've pretty much left it alone," Ball said.
They're also labeling the poles and locking things up better.
"I've actually received a few emails glad that the lights are back on and hoping that we get the rest of them finished," Ball said.
Now that a majority of the project is finished, the City can work on some more difficult projects that will force them to shut down lanes of traffic around the IDL and the Broken Arrow Expressway.
The frustrating part is that all of this takes away from other things the Streets and Stormwater Department could have been doing.
"As a taxpayer, it makes you mad because that money…looking at what that could have done elsewhere on other projects, other locations," Ball said.
He expects to get all the lights finished by 2018.