Alex Graber of Montecito Heights drives frequently through the tangle of lanes where the 110 and 5 freeways meet near Lincoln Heights and Cypress Park. But Graber said getting through this busy interchange has been made more challenging since so many of the lights have gone dark and have stayed that way for the past year. The darkened interchange bothered Graber enough to complain to authorities to get Caltrans to fix the lights. There was no response, Graber said by email:
For well over a year, 60 lights have been shut off all along these freeways at very dangerous transition points. I have contacted my councilman’s office several times and they don’t seem to be getting any response from Cal Trans. Think you’d see this on the West Side? Doubtful. Next time you drive this at night, check it out. It’s appalling.
Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler could not say how long the lights had been out at the interchange but agency officials blame copper wire thieves for the problem. Starting this weekend, repairs will begin to get the lights back on.
Repairing the lights at the interchange was on Caltrans’ To-Do List and is among the numerous spots along area freeways where copper wire thieves have struck, plunging sections of roadway into darkness, Chandler said. “We know we do have wire theft going on” at the 110-5 interchange, he said. The thieves are able to yank out the copper wiring after breaking into freeway pull boxes to access the conduit.
Given current budget restrictions, it can take a while before freeway lights are repaired, he said. It’s also no simple task since freeway lanes have to be closed and crews can only work for five to six hours at a time during such closures. That’s why the work to restore the lights to the 110-5 interchange will take place gradually.
On Sunday morning, Caltrans will close the connector from the southbound 110 to the northbound 5 freeway to replace the stolen conduit and restore the lights, Chandler said. Other minor repairs, such as filling cracks in the roadway, will be conducted at the same time.