CHICAGO (CBS) — It is lights out for not just one neighborhood in Chicago but a few. The combination of old equipment and cold weather may be causing the blackout. And it’s not a one-day fix, according to some city officials.
Up until Monday evening, it would have been tough to see ten feet down the street in an eight block section from Leavitt to Oakley and Foster to Berwyn.
It’s an issue popping up across the city, and according to some officials, it could get worse with time before it gets better.
As dusk fell on this section of Bowmanville Monday, the streets were set to go dark again.
“It was really dark, darker than normal,” resident Lori Morlack said. “And I looked around and realized that the lights were out.”
Residents like Morlack say eight blocks in this area had been without streetlights for the better part of the last few weeks. Alderman Pat O’Connor says city crews came out Dec. 10 to fix the lights, blaming recurring outages on old infrastructure.
“Most of the lights and the wiring is underground and in many instances if they get wet they short out,” said Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th).
A CDOT crew came back out Monday night, within two hours of CBS 2’s aldermanic inquiries. And the lights were back. But Bowmanville isn’t the only Chicago neighborhood to go intermittently dark. It was lights out in a pocket of Mount Greenwood Sunday. Alderman Matt O’Shea believes old, frayed underground wiring could also be part of the problem there.
“It’s always a little bit scarier when it’s dark,” Morlack said.
“We don’t want anybody’s lights out,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor points out all of the city’s lights are slowly being replaced, as are some streets and underground wiring including these Bowmanville blocks.
“You try and manage the frustration with the idea that we’re going to be out there renewing all these lights, so how much money do you spend fixing an old light when you’re ultimately putting a new light in there in a few months, so that’s part of the deal” O’Connor said.
O’Connor said upgrades to the area in Bowmanville should take place sometime in 2019. It’s all part of a $160 million citywide light replacement program with most of the money going toward replacing actual street light bulbs, but about a quarter of that money will go to replace some light poles and underground wiring.