Some Chicago traffic lights still broken months, even a year, after reporting to 311

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Friday, October 7, 2022
Some Chicago traffic lights still broken months after 311 reports
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There are allegations the city has ignored thousands of complaints about broken Chicago traffic lights being reported to 311.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are allegations the city has ignored thousands of complaints about broken Chicago traffic lights being reported to 311, which could be confusing drivers and endangering passengers.

The I-Team found some of those lights were not fixed for almost a year after they were reported to 311.

"I'm very frustrated that a process in this city is broken that is designed to keep citizens safe," Lakeview resident Ed Hayes said.

Hayes has been reporting broken traffic lights on Chicago's 311 app, but many of those lights are still burned out. So is his patience.

"It's a huge safety concern because the duplicate signals are, the multiple signals on an intersection are designed to create redundancy. And when one of them burns out, the redundancy is lost," he said.

To make matters worse, his unresolved complaints are listed as "complete" on the 311 app.

"They're saying they're saying it's resolved and it's not resolved," said Hayes.

One of the lights he reported is in the 800 block on West Belmont.

"You can see the time it took to 'complete' it. This one took one day," he said.

Hayes found and reported this broken light on Belmont back in November 2021. When the I-Team checked on it, located at the busy Belmont and Halsted intersection, in the fall of 2022, it was still not working.

The I-Team discovered that nine out of 10 broken traffic lights that Hayes filed complaints about a year ago are still not fixed.

Hayes said he contacted the Chicago Department of Transportation, his alderman and even Mayor Lightfoot but no one responded.

Hayes reported the light at the busy three-way intersection of Halsted, Clark and Barry. People who travel this area are concerned.

"The potential for danger and pedestrians getting hit or cars colliding," one pedestrian told the I-Team. "I live around here so I walk through this intersection all of the time and particularly this one. Different angles and more than two streets crossing, there is a lot going on, this is something I would hate to see someone get hurt."

"The light is not here for us, you know," another pedestrian said.

And the broken light complaints stretch well beyond Lakeview. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed CDOT has had 29,509 broken traffic light complaints in the last 20 months.

The I-Team chose a dozen of those complaints from different parts of the city and checked to see if they had been fixed. Four traffic lights out of 12 were still broken. Crews were fixing one of the lights at Cermak and Kedzie that was reported back in January. Another light, at Division and Central, was recently fixed.

CDOT declined an on camera interview and did not address why some unfixed lights in this report were marked as "closed" but told the I-Team that "crews are out seven days a week maintaining and repairing the more than 3,000 signalized intersections in Chicago. Crews respond to traffic light outages as soon as possible to ensure the safety of all road users. Repairs are prioritized based on the urgency of the problem, such as when all traffic light signals are out."

The added, "Chicago follows the federal guidelines from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which requires a minimum of two working traffic signals at all intersections."

The time it takes to fix the lights and the fact that they are reported "closed" when they are still broken, frustrates Hayes.

"When I contact people, they seem not to care that the process is broken or acknowledged the process is broken," Hayes said.

CDOT still encourage residents to report any outages or malfunctioning traffic signals by reporting them to 311.

Visit , the CHI311 mobile app or through the 3-1-1 Call Center to report broken traffic lights.