WSDOT: Wire thieves hit State Route 16 again

For the second time in a week, thieves darkened a section of highway in Pierce County. Sometime over the weekend,...

For the second time in a week, thieves darkened a section of highway in Pierce County. Sometime over the weekend, 2,000 feet of copper wire that feeds the lighting for the eastbound on-ramp to SR 16 near Cheney Stadium was stolen, leaving early-morning and evening commuters in the dark.
Last week, thieves pulled the ground wire that illuminated the freeway westbound from Union Avenue to 19th Street.
This crime is becoming a weekly occurrence that is endangering drivers and costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. The Olympic Region, which covers Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Kitsap, Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam counties has incurred more than $145,000 in losses due to wire theft in the past year. There is no funding in WSDOT’s maintenance budget to replace the stolen wire, meaning this section of roadway will remain dark until money becomes available to replace the wire. WSDOT is self-insured, so ultimately taxpayers pay the price for the theft.
WSDOT and the Washington State Patrol need the public’s assistance raising awareness of this type of crime. Thieves go to great lengths to steal wire, says WSDOT, even staging work zones to provide the opportunity, time and cover they need to rip out the wires. The public can help. Motorists who see suspicious activity along the roadside should contact the State Patrol by calling 1-866-976-WIRE or using the reporting form found at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Maintenance/material/observation.htm .

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