City, state making strides toward a better-lit commute

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - If driving along the arterial in Utica seems as dark as driving along a country road, there's a reason for that.

Actually, two reasons.

The state is taking down some huge high-mast light poles over concerns of safety and the City of Utica says the lighting along a section of the arterial in South Utica continues to be worked on.

"About a month ago, one of the towers was leaning," said Jim Piccola, New York State Department of Transportation spokesman. "With further investigation, we saw it was starting to show some fatigue. So we ended up taking that down."

Technically, the poles belong to the City of Utica. But because of the potential danger of these 20-plus-year-old poles, the state is paying for the takedown.

But what about those poles along the arterial near the French Road exit? Some of them don't even have a light on them, and some are lit during the day and some aren't. They also belong to the City of Utica, but the city is responsible for their maintenance.

Deputy Engineer in the City of Utica Mike Mahoney says the city has received complaints about how dark it's been while driving in that part of the arterial. And he says work has been -- and continues to be -- done to improve the situation.

"At one point, they weren't all down, but early this fall we realized they were all out," Mahoney said.

Since then, Mahoney says all five power circuits in that area have been replaced. Now it's a matter of paying a contractor to fix the poles that have problems and replace the lights -- and that costs money. And the reason the lights are on during the day is because the sensors on the lights are broke and need replacing. However, because the city is charged a flat rate for usage, it isn't costing residents extra when the lights are on when they shouldn't be.

Mahoney said the contractor doing the work for the state on the high-mast poles will also be doing the work along the South Utica section of the arterial. He said he hopes it will be better lit in the next couple of months. 

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