HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Police are investigating the theft of an estimated 40,000 feet of copper wiring from the street lights along Nimitz Highway under the airport viaduct. It is a heist that is expected to cost tax payers at least $100,000.
To fully understand this story we have to go back to last December or January. That is when one of three transformers that supplies power to lights under the viaduct broke. When the transformer went out so did the street lights leaving a third of the covered stretch of Nimitz in the dark.
Then, a few months later, a second transformer failed. Replacements had to be specially made.
"So we got two on order," said Dan Meisenzahl, spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation. "The first one (new transformer) comes. Plug it in. Flip the switch. All the lights go on above the viaduct. The lights below don't go on. So we're like, 'What happened?' Our engineers go check it out. Someone took all the copper wiring," Meisenzahl said.
The wiring was pulled right out of the conduits that connect the power source to the lights.
"They knew that the lights were out. It's safer to try to steal the copper wiring when the power is out, obviously. And they went in and that is exactly what they did," Meisenzahl added.
The thieves also took the wiring from the stretch of road served by the second blown transformer. So now, two thirds of Nimitz Highway under the viaduct is without functioning street lights. Powering them back up will be expensive.
"We're talking about between $100,000 and $200,000. And so that's $100,000 or $200,000 that could have been used paving roads … could have been used for bridge maintenance or guardrail repair," spokesperson Meisenzahl lamented.
The job of replacing the missing wiring is out to bid. The work will probably not be complete until sometime in November.