ST. LOUIS, Mo. -After spending $1.4 million replacing street light poles in 2014, City of St. Louis taxpayers are footing the bill for auto accidents in which drivers at fault are supposed to pay for repairs.
"I think they need to do something about it and stop taking our tax money because we need more important things than replacing all these poles," says St. Louis resident Margaret Marrow.
An accident at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday at the intersection of South Grand and Arsenal took out another traffic signal pole. The cost to replace the pole and equipment is a minimum of $2100.
Drivers took out 107 traffic signal poles and 509 light poles in 2014.
Occasionally, a driver leaves the scene of an accident after striking a pole and taxpayers are stuck with the cost.
"We typically only collect 30 cents on the dollar for the street lights that are damaged," says St. Louis Streets Director Todd Waelterman. "You have people who hit and run and you have people who are uninsured."
The city tries to break down the metal and concrete from the poles that are knocked down in the city, allowing them to get more use out of them.
"The concrete poles are cut up and they go back to a plant and they get ground up and turned into new concrete and the metal ones are recycled," says Waelterman.
Some of the parts can be put back to use, but usually the force of the impact and the fall leave the poles and equipment unusable.
The number of street light poles knocked down in 2014 was slightly higher than usual, probably because of all the snow.
Each year the total number of poles knocked down is close to 600 and tax payers end up footing 60 percent of the cost to replace them.