Good Question: Why are there blackouts on expressways?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— Here’s a Good Question about some new construction.

This is specifically about lights-big, bright, LED lights going up around the area all over the expressways. They are hard to miss– and they really stand out when they don’t work.

Driver after driver is taking notice. Here’s one message: Why is it that with all the recent construction, many long stretches of expressway lights are always out?

And another question, from a first responder: As part of my job I find myself traveling the interstates at night. I have noticed that large portions of these interstates that are equipped with street lighting are not working. This is especially annoying as we move to fall and winter when the nights become much longer.

News10NBC’s Brennan Somers also sees the problems with the lights, like along 590 coming in from Webster every morning.

Sporadic blackouts.

Here’s the thing: A lot of those lights are new. We’re in the middle of a multi-year switch to modern led lights on our busiest roads. If they haven’t been up that long– what’s the problem?

County officials with the Department of Transportation tell Somers there are two main reasons this can happen. The first: Crashes– constantly knocking down poles.

"Most highway lighting circuits are set up similar to a string of holiday lights; when one bulb (or highway lighting pole in this case) is removed from the circuit, the entire circuit will be dark until the pole is repaired." The DOT said

The second reason: Pests and rodents digging down and chewing on the wires.

"There is a known outage from this cause near the 390 @ West Ridge Road interchange; 4,000 feet of burned up wire will need to be replaced to get these lights working again." The DOT said.

Somers is told repairs are on the way. So that’s the county work going on.

If you’ve seen dark areas recently around 390 and 490 where the state opened that new flyover, all the lighting, paving, and sign work is wrapping up this year.


Watch previous Good Question segments here. If you have a question you’d like answered, email