City of Fresno reports progress turning lights back on

FRESNO, Calif.

The city has retrofitted about 30,000 street lamps and secured the wires that have become popular with thieves. Now, they're using extra resources to target the lights that still don't work.

Street lights are once again illuminating a Southwest Fresno neighborhood near West Avenue and Kearney. For about a year, the darkness was enough to keep some residents from going outside. "Why would you? You don't want something to happen to you. Only bad things happen at night or in the dark so you don't want to risk it," said resident Jay Grays.

Across the street, resident Kenneth Bush installed motion lights to combat the darkness. He even considered paying for the repairs himself - whatever he could do, to restore a sense of security he and his wife lost. "They allowed me to change my work schedule because it's just the two of us and I wasn't comfortable leaving her in the dark like that," said Bush.

While the lights in Bush's neighborhood are back on, about 3,200 street lamps citywide remain dark. Earlier this year, the city council approved additional funding to secure 26,000 working street lamps and prevent more theft.

After more than three months, that work is done. "That portion of the job worked out pretty much as expected in terms of how much the budgeted amount was, how long it took us to do that work, and that it is indeed, an effective deterrent," said Fresno Public Works Director Patrick Wiemiller.

In all, 30,000 street lamps have been retrofitted and sealed with cement.

Wiemiller says the temporary crews hired earlier this year will now be used to help restore power to the lights that are still out.

In Kenneth Bush's neighborhood, the lights returned late last week. "Saturday and Sunday we took our first evening walks, we're kind of going back to our normal life," said Bush.

Wiemiller said as the city moves forward, it will try to target lights that have been out the longest amount of time.

They expect to be able to repair about 250 a month. If you have a broken lamp in your neighborhood, call 621-CITY to report it.

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