FAQ City: Why Don't Some Major Roads In Charlotte Have Streetlights?

Feb 13, 2018

Here's a riddle: Imagine two roads in Charlotte, one in the north, one in the south. Both have four lanes and plenty of rush hour traffic, but one has streetlights while the other doesn't. Seem weird?

It did to listener Owusu Duah, who lives near University City and noticed several roads in the area that aren't lit up at night, among them W.T. Harris Boulevard, Billy Graham Parkway, Mallard Creek Church Road, and parts of West Sugar Creek Road and University City Boulevard.

Owusu came to Charlotte about two years ago by way of the Bronx, and he says that might be one reason why he's so unsettled by the unlit roadways.

"I'm not used to seeing this kind of darkness on a major street like this before," he says, "Imagine all these cars turning off their headlights, how this place is going to look."

And what, then, if a person or an animal were to dart in front of traffic, or some bit of debris to fall off a passing truck?

All this leads Owusu to ask, why would the city install streetlights on so many major thoroughfares, like Providence Road or North Tryon Street, but pass over others?

In this episode of FAQ City, we set off to shed some light on that question by taking a trip down W.T. Harris Boulevard and seeing first hand what can happen when a street isn't lit up and someone's tail lights are out. Then, after encountering several baffled bureaucrats, we finally catch up with Anthony Mendez, a project manager with the city's transportation department, who says the answer has all to do with city priorities, and a lack of dedicated funding.

Do you have a question about the people, places, or goings-on in the Charlotte region that you'd like us to answer? Let us know below, and we might just answer it on the next FAQ City! While you're at it, make sure to subscribe and rate/review the podcast on Apple PodcastsNPR One, and Google Play.