City Says Most Traffic Lights Are Working

In the wake of Hurricane Ike, Houston's traffic is getting better by the day. That's because more and more traffic lights that were damaged are coming back online. Still the situation was serious enough for the City Council to hold a special committee meeting on the matter. Bill Stamps was there.

“If the police officer is not there, it takes 45 minutes to get through. At 6:30 this morning it took me 30-minutes to get through, cause a police officer wasn’t there…”

That’s Councilwoman Toni Lawrence telling a nightmare story many Houstonians have experienced first hand in the last few weeks since the storm. And while it may be frustrating to wait at one of those intersections without functioning lights, Mike Marcotte, the man in charge of fixing them says 85 percent of the city’s traffic lights are working.

“Two hundred and seventy-three or about twelve percent are still in flash mode and now eight-five are reported being all dark.  That’s about three-and-half-percent.  That number has been plummeting, as you would expect, as Centerpoint has been moving to restore electrical power.”

The city is putting every available worker on the street, including a few crews from San Antonio. The price tag so far is more than six million.

“The major costs are about one-third for materials that we’ve been feeding into this exercise, and about two-thirds of the costs…about four million dollars for contractor services that have been procured.”

One of the questions put to Mr. Marcott was why some of the damaged yellow light casings were replaced with black ones. Marcott says you can’t just go to Wal-Mart and buy new ones and since Houston needed hundreds of them they had to buy whatever was available.

“But I’ve question about priority…”

The meeting was open to the public but few if any showed up..perhaps they were stuck at one of those non-working intersections.

Bill Stamps. KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required