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Posted: 4:07 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012
By Jim Bradley
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Scattered across Charlotte highways are hundreds of broken lights, creating dark stretches that drivers like Frank Suddreth have spent years complaining about.
“Yes, it is (frustrating),” Suddreth said. “Very much so. And I'm just scared to death that I'm going to be one of the ones up against the wall.”
But Eyewitness News learned concerns like Suddreth's are being given new attention and a new deadline the state is working to meet.
That deadline is the Democratic National Convention, which kicks off in September.
Complete coverage: DNC 2012
State DOT leaders confirm that their concerns about having dark stretches of highway during the convention are prompting a flurry of new projects to replace and repair faulty lights.
The state admits there are 40 to 50 lights out along Independence Boulevard between Briar Creek and Interstate 277.
There’s an even bigger problem on I-77 between the Brookshire and John Belk freeways.
“I'd say half to three-quarters of those lights are out,” said Scott Cole with NCDOT.
Cole said the DOT is already working to replace 60 light poles, including some going in now along Independence, and will accelerate projects to fix dark spots along I-77 and I-85 could begin in April.
The DNC issued a statement saying, “We're confident the NCDOT will be fully prepared for the convention.”
Cole can't guarantee all the lights will be on but expects the darkest stretches now will have lights then.
“We're trying to accomplish our yearly program a little earlier just so we'll have the benefit of that program when the DNC arrives,” Cole said.
“This might be the thing that might break the camel's back and get the work done,” Suddreth said. “(The) DNC might be it.”
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