Abilene got a lot brighter last week.

At least, after the sun goes down.

Lights began to shine again on the Interstate 70 and Buckeye Avenue intersection. Lights were back in place at Little Ike Park. The Grandstand in Eisenhower Park will now glow with its new LED lights.

Topping off the week was the installation of new stoplights being installed at the intersection of Buckeye Avenue and 14th Street.

Brad Anderson, area supervisor for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said Heineken Electric was getting the lights working on Interstate 70 recently.

“We got a significant number working,” Anderson said.

About half of the lights at the Interstate 70 intersection hadn’t been working previously.

According to Anderson, the contractor hired to fix those lights on Interstate 70 from Junction City to the Colorado line got behind and eventually that contract was cancelled.

Heineken Electric is the new contractor.

Power problems

“We found that we had some power to some of the lights down in the bases, which tells me our system was working,” he said.

However, in one area, there was no power with major wire damage.

“On the westbound ramp they found a section of complete underground wiring that was totally burned up,” Anderson said. “An electrical surge or lightning strike totally fried the wiring so it killed a lot of lights on the westbound on ramp area.”

New lights

Anderson said he learned last week that new LED lighting similar to the Interstate 70 and Solomon Road exit is in the works. Bids will be sent out in the fall and opened sometime in the winter.

“The project may start as early as once spring hits and a late start would probably be fall,” he said.

The lights that weren’t working on the westbound exit were making it difficult for motorists to see the exit.

Chad Rufener, manager of the Holiday Inn, went to the Abilene City Commission, hoping for a solution.

Anderson said Heineken Electric recently started looking into the lighting situation at the intersection.

“A lot of it at that point was guessing,” Anderson said. “We figured we had some lights and ballasts out. A major concern was wiring.”

He said several simply had bird nests in the lighting fixtures and the bulbs were burned out. “Right now, they are replacing bulbs and ballasts that they can on the poles that they know have power,” he said. “They are dealing with everything from the simple things to wiring harnesses.”

Replacing some of the wiring and changing lights came in at a cost of $17,700.

Anderson said it was not feasible to make major repairs to the lights if a new lighting system was slated for next year.

“This is a project. People just need to be patient,” he said.

Grandstand

The grandstand in Eisenhower Park now has 32 new LED lights.

Jim Krueger, a member of the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo Committee, said the project started last year with 10 new lights. Another 22 were installed this year.

“It should make it brighter and should cut down on the utility bill,” he said.

Krueger said that funding grants from Westar, the city of Abilene, the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo Committee and the Central Kansas Free Fair board paid for the $35,000 project.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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