Broken street lights in DC raise safety concerns

WASHINGTON — A local activist is concerned by the number of street lights that don’t work in the nation’s capital, and says the District’s aging infrastructure is putting citizens and visitors at risk.

During a recent walk-through of Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan and the area around Cardozo High School, Terry Lynch of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations said 30 street lights were dark.

“People are coming home, going off to work, recreating — they need to know that lights are on when they’re coming or going at night,” Lynch said.

Lynch is calling on the District government to conduct “a 30-day citywide sweep” to return streetlights to working order.

Lynch’s group also wants the District to use new technology to be alerted immediately when street lights are out, so they can be repaired within 48 hours, he said.

Terry Owens, a DDOT public information officer, told WTOP all the outages reported by Lynch’s group have been scheduled for repair.

Owens said the agency does monthly assessments of its 71,000 streetlights and responds to citizens’ reports of nonworking street lights, with the goal of replacing bulbs within five days.

However, Lynch said he wants the District to focus on illuminating the city, in the same way it has focused on other priorities.

“Much like we did with libraries, parking meters, school modernizations, it’s time to get rid of these 50-year old streetlights and get us those that would serve the community better,” Lynch said.

“It’s going to take the higher-ups, at the City Administrator and the mayoral level, to say this is a basic public safety issue, and they need to set aside both the resources and people power, to do it,” said Lynch.

Owens said the agency has plans to modernize the streetlight system, “but it would be premature to comment at this time.”

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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