Good Question: Why aren’t the street lights on at parts of local highways?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Here’s a good question about something people when they’re driving, the street lights along 490 and 390.

They are vital for visibility during every season but especially when the winter weather hits after daylight saving time. That’s what one of you asked us about in this good question.

Margie wanted to know:

“Why now with daylight savings time are the expressway lights turned off? My commute starts at 4:30 a.m. along with many others. Lights in question 490 East all the way to 390 South. Lights are on during the summer? Good question why are they off now? Bring back the lights!”

The lights are maintained by the Monroe County Department of Transportation. I reached out to the county with Margie’s question and learned that the lights are not impacted by daylight saving time. They are scheduled to be on from dusk until dawn all year round.

So, why then is it dark like this during Margie’s early morning commute? The county tells me it could be due to damage from an accident, adding:

“When a pole is knocked off of its base during a traffic accident, that light is removed from the circuit until the pole can be replaced or set on a new base. Most highway lights are set up similar to a string of holiday lights; when one bulb (or highway lighting pole) is removed from the circuit, the entire circuit will be dark until the pole is repaired.”

Another possible reason? Rodents. The county says they can chew through underground wiring.  When that happens, the damaged wires need to be replaced in order for the lights to come back on.

If you happen to notice lights out while you’re driving on a highway in Monroe County, there is a way to report it so it can get fixed. You can call the county’s Department of Transportation at (585) 753-7700 or email

If you have a good question, send it to us at