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City of Milwaukee says street lighting outages due to weather

By Madison Goldbeck,


The City of Milwaukee says recent weather events created a backlog of nearly 50 circuit outages on older street lighting circuits.

The City said in a statement Friday the outages are due to the freeze and thaw cycle and the Department of Public Works is "working diligently to address the situation while making progress on long-term improvements."

The City maintains nearly 77,000 street lights, most with an aging infrastructure powered by underground facilities.

"Each spring with fluctuating temperatures a freeze/thaw cycle occurs," the City said. "After water penetrates the underground electrical infrastructure, it freezes and breaks open causing a disruption in the circuitry system. This series circuitry, installed nearly 100 years ago or more, is similar to old Christmas tree lights where one bad light takes down a whole strand of lights."

Addressing this requires digging up the ground, troubleshooting then repairing the faulty circuitry. A full response can range from 24 hours to nearly a week, depending on staff availability and the number of outages in the queue.

"The Department of Public Works Electrical Services division, which maintains the street lighting system, is currently at a 33% vacancy rate which is affecting the response time. And with the seasonal freeze/thaw it results in a surge of outages at one time with fewer people to address them," the City shared.

Electrical Services personnel were re-deployed beginning earlier this month and have been working seven days a week, three shifts a day to address the street lighting troubles.

Residents are encouraged to report street lighting outages. You can do so by:

The City is also currently hiring municipal service electricians. Apply online before April 7.

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