Copper thieves forcing Caltrans to spend millions

Copper thieves are forcing Caltrans to spend a whopping $12 million on repairs to get freeway lights and meters back up and running.
May 8, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Copper thieves are forcing Caltrans to spend a whopping $12 million on repairs to get freeway lights and meters back up and running.

Most drivers don't notice the intricate electrical system that maintains and guides traffic along Valley highways. But it's vast, and severely damaged.

Gloria Rodriguez with Caltrans said, "Landscaping, our wiring isn't working, it's been vandalized. A lot of our traffic control boxes and our pump houses."

Copper thieves have stripped the wiring out from alongside all Valley highways for years. Crooks have even gone far enough to topple poles to get to the valuable metal.

In a massive effort to repair the damage, Caltrans spokesperson Gloria Rodriguez says two contractors are now working on a $12 million project. The crew will be replacing brass sprinklers, and the old easy-access electrical boxes with new reinforced steel-top boxes.

"You'll see the boxes on the right shoulder," said Rodriguez. "They're encased in cement. They're special boxes and they have special locking lids."

The entire metro section of Highway 168 is being repaired along with Highway 180 from far west of Fresno almost to Sanger. Highway 99 from Selma to Chowchilla, and Highway 41 from Manning to Children's Blvd.

The project is running into delays as vandals keep ripping off new sections of Valley highways.

Rodriguez added, "The 12 million that we've spent, we'd rather spend that on other things, improving highways, fixing potholes."


Load Comments