WEST READING, Pa. - We're shining a spotlight on a big problem involving dozens of street lights being out along the West Shore Bypass in Berks County.
The issue may be more complicated than you'd imagine. Some of it has to do with joint ownership of the lighting system, and some of it has to do with the age of the system, but it's definitely a project that's back on the table, according to Berks County and Muhlenberg Township Met-Ed.
The two parties and a contractor met Wednesday to figure out what initial steps they need to take to get the project going.
Some of the lights along the West Shore Bypass have been out for years.
"Over time, there's been a lot of deterioration in the system," said Alan Piper, Berks County's transportation planner. "The lights aren't necessarily placed where they should be. They get knocked over a lot. There's a constant need for repairs."
Piper said the placement of the poles goes back to the 1960s, and the poles wouldn't be where they are now if the highway were built today.
"To complicate things even further, a couple of years ago, when PennDOT did a repair out there, they came through and put in new guide rails," Piper said. "In the process of doing that, [PennDOT] cut through some of the circuits that needed to be empowered to keep the lights running."
"To fix the entire problem, to get all new conduit out there etc., was going to be difficult," said Todd Meyers, a Met-Ed spokesman. "That roadway was slated as a PennDOT widening project, and it's likely that conduit and the poles would have been impacted."
Met-Ed said it would have been a costly project for a temporary fix. Now that the bypass widening has been pushed almost a decade down the road, the players are back to the drawing board.
69 News also asked about the lights on the bridge that carries Penn Avenue over the bypass in West Reading. They are noticeably dark now that the Penn Street Bridge in Reading has been rehabilitated.
"To redo the bridge, we would have to have some conduit on the outside of the bridge to put new wire in to serve those lights, and it's not something we've been able to get worked out at this point with PennDOT," Meyers said.
County officials said they will go back out and re-evaluate everything to determine what's working and what's not. They said they expect to have some preliminary recommendations on how to move forward to restore the lighting by the end of next month.