Buckhead tunnel of darkness remains, but not for much longer
Tunnel lights have been out for more than a year. Then Better Call Harry got involved.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - After more than a year since its lights went out, the Buckhead Georgia 400 tunnel should be fully lit by September, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
Last week, Georgia Power crews began removing more than 700 tunnel lights that have been on and off for years. Georgia Power is restructuring the electrical lines and upgrading the lights to LEDs after a main electrical panel flooded in December 2021.
The project has taken so long to get started because GDOT didn’t have a funding source, nor could it reach an agreement with Georgia Power, which wanted $3.1 million.
The lights are necessary because Georgia law requires lighting in tunnels. Also, anyone driving into that tunnel on a bright sunny day knows that when sunlight is bouncing off the Atlanta Financial Center, a driver’s eyes have a hard time adjusting.
Dr. Wesley Hanson, an optometrist, said normal eyes need 15 to 20 minutes to adjust to the drastic light change.
“As we get older, it takes even longer,” she said. “If people have any conditions, cataracts or macular degeneration, or any changes in the eye, they may not adapt at all.
Better Call Harry obtained 23 driver complaints to GDOT’s 511 helplines over the past year.
One complainant wrote, “This is particularly hazardous when one goes from the bright sunshine to pitch black, you are blinded, and everyone slams on their brakes.”
Georgia Power crews will be working in the tunnel over the next several months. They are not blocking any lanes and for safety, they are depending on a lighted truck to take the impact if a car swerves in the tunnel.
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