For the past five years, nighttime has plunged long stretches of Westchester County's major parkways into darkness. Now, that might be changing.
In recent weeks, crews have begun a $2.5 million project to repair 1,200 light poles on the Cross County, Farragut, Hutchinson River, Saw Mill River and Taconic State parkways, said Carol Breen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. The Bronx River Parkway is not part of the project because it is owned by Westchester County.
That's around $2,080 for each pole, a cost that reflects more than the expense of replacing lightbulbs that cost around $375 apiece.
"We're not necessarily replacing each light," Breen said. "We're going to look at the lights that are out and see if it's the lamp, wiring or something in the pole."
The complexity of the work is one reason why the DOT waited so long to repair the lights, she added.
"We discovered in 2008 that lighting on the parkways in Westchester County needed greater repairs than our maintenance crews have the expertise to perform," said Breen, who added that outside workers triggered the state's bidding process.
The state chose Mount Vernon-based Verde Electric Corp. last year. It took the company months to assemble the parts necessary to begin the job, Breen said.
The company's crews are checking lights in the middle of the day to avoid disrupting rush-hour traffic, she said.
Although the state owns the parkways, Westchester County police patrol them. A police spokesman said officers note when lights are off, but the department didn't have evidence that the darkness had caused an increase in accidents.