Rats are responsible for disabling street lights along Interstate 30 in Texarkana, Ark., and repairs are likely to take weeks.
The rodents have chewed through the wiring of overhead lights on the I-30 median between Jefferson Avenue and Four States Fair Parkway, causing "a massive electrical problem," said Tyler Richards, Arkansas-side public works director.
Most of the lights are out completely, but some are flashing, indicating that low voltage is still reaching them.
"It's a big mess," Richards said.
The city has hired a contractor to repair the lights and attempt to fortify the electrical system against further invasion. It could be two weeks or longer before repairs will even begin, and there is no certainty that rats can be kept out for long.
"Sometimes there's absolutely nothing you can do to keep them out, because those dadgum rats, they'll chew through anything pretty much. There's some small things you can do to help keep them out, at least delay them," Richards said.
The problem is especially difficult to address because it is widespread. Repair cost estimates are hard to make for the same reason.
"They've gotten into virtually every section of the wiring along the median," Richards said. "It's not just one place. In between each light, there's a junction box. At each light, there's a hand hole at the bottom of the light. So they've gotten into all the junction boxes. They've gotten into all the lights themselves."
The state of Arkansas put up the lights, and the city is responsible for their maintenance and repair. The lights are not necessary for driver safety but are intended to create a welcoming approach to the city.
Like other rodents, rats must continually gnaw because their teeth constantly grow, and it is common for them to chew through electrical wiring. Multiple news accounts have reported a recent increase in rats and mice chewing wiring in newer automobiles because of an innovative, soy-based form of electrical insulation they seem to like.