Replacing Damaged Tulsa Street Lights May Take Two Years

Thursday, August 4th 2016, 11:01 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa city council members learned it might take a year-and-a-half to finish replacing Tulsa's damaged and outdated street lights.

The update comes as city workers report thieves struck again, stealing copper from at least two lights last month.

Last summer, thieves went after light poles all over Tulsa - stealing the copper wiring to sell for money. Since then, the city put together a task force to address the problem and get the lights back on - so far, they're only 15 percent done with the project.

They light our roads and provide a sense of safety in the dark, if they're on.

3/29/2016 Related Story: City Crews Continue Work To Repair Highway Street Lights

City councilor Jack Henderson said, "They're afraid to drive at night because the streets are dark."

Thursday, city workers met with city council members to update them on their progress of getting street lights fixed.

"We're getting as many on as we can, as fast as we can," Henderson said.

With a budget of $2 million, only 15 percent of the lights are fixed since thieves started vandalizing and stealing copper wire from them.

Streets and Stormwater Department director, Terry Ball, said workers have one goal, “Do this as quick as possible, but yet stay within a budget that really wasn't anticipated to begin with."

Ball said the finish line is 18 months away.

Henderson said, "I really do think that a year-and-a-half is not going to fly with the people that want to see those lights back on."

One problem is that thefts last month have city workers frustrated.

Ball said, “We have to pull a crew off that's working somewhere else, trying to keep that, and going and rewiring an area that we've already fixed."

On all the new lights that are being installed, workers are adding these special locking mechanisms to keep thieves out. They're also adding stickers saying, in both English and Spanish, that the wires inside are aluminum and not worth your effort to steal them.

"We would just hope that, at some point, they quit trying to go after this because there is just not any value to what they're going for," Ball said.

Henderson said he plans to speak with other council members to try and find funds so that the city can hire additional workers to speed up the process and get the lights on sooner.