CHICAGO (CBS)–$1 million worth of new light poles and underground wiring are going up along 10 blocks of Brighton Park, but it’s not a typical light installation project.
In a video posted to Facebook, two men are seen violently shaking power lines attached to underground wiring that powers a light pole at 44th and Wood.
Alderman Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) said he first saw the video in August after a resident shared it with him. He said the problem has been ongoing.
Of the 154 complaints of darkened street lights logged in the neighborhood since January of this year, 50 were lined to vandalism.
“They know if they hit the right wiring, they might take out the lights for an entire block and cause us to spend hundreds of dollars routinely to fix it,” Lopez said. “Most notably by gang members, trying to make the streets dark, so they can do the things that they want to do.”
Lopez says since the beginning of this year, $1 million dollars from his Aldermanic menu fund has been spent on installing LED lights on crime-ridden blocks like Richmond Street and Sacramento and Francisco avenues.
Irving Samora lives on South Richmond Street, and said he’s noticed improved lighting on the block since the LED lights have been installed.
“It’s more white than yellow, so they are so nice,” Samora said. “Better than they used to be.”
Samora said he’s noticed the street lights shutting off at night, but didn’t realize the wires powering the lights had been cut by vandals.
“We don’t know who did it or how they went down, or anything like that,” Samora said. “I noticed, a couple weeks before, I seen that, that side was dark and that side, was lighter.”
The six-year LED light installation program involves installing doubled-sided lights, illuminating both the sidewalks and the streets. The wires are all underground.
A Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson says the new lights are designed to prevent anyone from cutting the wires. The access doors leading to the wires are locked inside the poles.