North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith appears to be ready to remove high-mast lights at the Interstate 30/Interstate 40 intersection.

In a May 13 letter to the North Little Rock City Council, Smith told aldermen he is ready to move on the project.

"The city of North Little Rock owns 11 high-mast light poles in the vicinity of the I-30/I-40 Intersection," Smith said. "These lights were installed by the State Highway Department many years ago. The city has subsequently accepted ownership and responsibility for the poles."

Smith said he has been informed by the North Little Rock Electric Department that several of the poles have fallen into disrepair.

"Some of the poles have falling welds," Smith said. "Others have been vandalized by that particular genre of thief who considers 20 feet of cooper wire to be worth the risk of electrocution. All of the poles are beyond their estimated useful life and require a decision to replace or remove."

Smith said unless he receives an objection from aldermen, he intends to remove the light poles.

Smith said he has been persuaded that the poles need replaced for the following reasons:

1. The cost of replacement is about $100,000 per pole.

2. The cost of removal is about $3,000 per pole.

3. The nearby intersection of I-40 and Highway 67/167 has no high-mast lights, yet traffic appears to flow safely.

Smith added in his fourth point, "I directed the Electric Department to turn off the high-mast poles to see if anyone even (would) notice. The lights have been off for over a month and no complaints have been received."

Smith said he believes the wisest move would be to remove the lights.

"I understand this decision may affect the willingness of the State Highway Department to install lighting as part of any future improvement to the intersection," Smith said. "However, I believe the cost of replacement, operation, and maintenance grossly exceeds the nominal value of additional lighting."