Interstate 270 (I-270)

Viewers, Drivers Complain of Lights Out on I-270

The problem is worst between the Shady Grove Road and Democracy Boulevard exits

NBC Universal, Inc.

Unless you drive your car every day in the early morning or at night, you might not notice how much of a difference the overhead lights on Interstate 270 can make. But a News4 story from two weeks ago about dozens of those broken lights generated tremendous response from viewers.

A camera mounted on top of a News4 van showed how dark it gets on the southbound lanes of I-270 near Montrose Road, and how much brighter things are on the other side heading north.

The problem is worst between the Shady Grove Road and Democracy Boulevard exits.

“You can't see nothing when it’s raining. The lines are very hard to see, too. With the lights out, you have to drive really cautiously, be careful,” Joe Nelson, a frequent I-270 driver, said. 

Nelson drives the particularly dark stretch of I-270 in the pre-dawn hours every day for work. He said he has made repair requests dating back a decade because of safety concerns.

Mike Abramson of Gaithersburg showed News4 emails he sent to state and local officials as part of his effort to get the lights fixed.

He said the issue dates back to 1997.

In one response from 2017, a Department of Transportation employee noted that the decades-old light fixtures are prone to recurring wiring problems. The email also said the repairs would be 80 percent complete in 60 days.

Overhead light problems have also been identified on stretches of the I-495 -- the Beltway -- in Montgomery County.

The State Highway Administration has not responded to a request for comment.

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