BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – People have complained about the lack of lighting on interstates in our region for years.

This week, the Birmingham City Council approved $1.65 million to make it happen. ALDOT is supplying the other half of the funds to begin the $3.5 million project.

It’s still very dark heading to I-59/I-20 from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport where people would be landing for the World Games.

Officials said the lights are out because thieves steal the copper wiring from inside the access panels.

“As long as I’ve lived here I haven’t really seen any of the lights on,” Birmingham resident Joey Amberson said.

Amberson said he has noticed the dark drive on the interstate every day on his commute to and from work.

“There’s a huge stretch of lighting along all of the interstate system throughout Birmingham that I hope that I hope to see one day soon every light pole lit up again,” Amberson said.

It could soon be brighter for five areas along Birmingham interstates including downtown to the airport, the Arkadelphia exit, University Blvd., Ensley-Five Points West and Green Springs.

“A light bulb that doesn’t come on diminishes people’s sense of pride in their communities,” Birmingham City Councilman and Transportation Committee Chair Darrell O’Quinn said. “Having things that actually work helps to contribute to that sense of community pride.”

O’Quinn said work has already begun in the Woodlawn area. He said the interstate project is just the beginning of what city leaders want to do to light up the community.

Amberson said he already noticed upgrades near the University Boulevard exit on I-65.

“I’m kind of hoping that after the World Games happens they do keep this up in some way, in improving the city,” Amberson said.

Officials have found a way to use aluminum wiring in the lights they are replacing. O’Quinn said they plan to try and weld the access panels shut to prevent thieves from shutting the new lights down.