Power Outages Cause Traffic Lights to Go Dark

by ARLnow.com March 8, 2011 at 8:29 am 3,150 29 Comments

Update at 9:35 a.m. — Power has been restored, Dominion spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson says. The outage was caused by a single, unlucky squirrel.

According to Anderson: “We had a squirrel get onto a piece of equipment which caused a power outage near Pershing Drive and Route 50 in Arlington.  At 7:42 AM, 1,765 customers lost power as a result of the squirrel making contact with our equipment and becoming the path of least resistance for electricity to travel to ground.”

Earlier: Traffic lights are out at a number of busy Arlington intersections due to a widespread power outage.

Dominion reports that more than 1,800 customers are without power this morning. Power is expected to be restored between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m.

Traffic lights are reported to be dark at the following intersections:

  • Route 50 and Pershing Drive
  • Route 50 and Henderson Road
  • George Mason Drive and Pershing Drive
  • George Mason Drive and Henderson Road
  • Four Mile Run Drive and Columbia Pike

Police are directing traffic at most, if not all, the above intersections.

  • Nance

    Does Barrett elementary have power?

  • Ballston resident

    I live in the Ballston Place townhouses, and our power went out around 7:30 this morning, and wasn’t back on when we left for work. Dominion told us it would be 3-4 hours before they could “figure it out”.

  • Take it down a notch

    As of 8:45 or so, traffic lights were working at Pershing and George Mason. No lights at Henderson, and no police either.

  • KArlington

    mmmmmmmm….fried squirrel!

  • Overgrown Bush

    Amazing how it is always a squirrel that causes the problems. They either are really pesky, or a convenient excuse. I wonder why a bird is never to blame?

    • PikeHoo

      Birds concentrate their efforts on planes.

    • borf


      ANCHORAGE — A raven to blame for an hour-long power outage Sunday afternoon in much of downtown Anchorage won’t ever darken Alaska’s largest city again.

      Municipal Light and Power workers found its carcass at a switchyard where its wings shorted out electrical lines.

      • Overgrown Bush

        You had to go to Alaska to find that! They probably don’t have squirrels there….too cold!

        • borf

          Yeah, but it was reported on the same day. More dying animals. The Apocalypse is proceeding on schedule.

    • CW

      Have you ever seen a squirrel after it’s been removed from a transformer? I have. It’s pretty ridiculous.

  • squirrel


  • G. Clifford Prout

    Someone is actually named Le-Ha?

    • CW

      If that were my name, I’d pronounce it LEEEEEEE-HAAAAAAHHHH!!!!

      • outoftowner

        Sadly, I think that is actually pernounced ‘Le Dash Uh’

    • charlie

      i hope their last name is Wei.

    • MIchael H.

      She’s of Vietnamese descent. You have a problem with that? Sorry if everyone isn’t Anglo-Saxon.

      • G. Clifford Prout

        Her new name is now Cathy.

  • shirley

    i bet all those intersections are operating more efficiently without lights.
    i find that traffic lights cause people to pay less attention and speed.
    thee is a movement in Europe to remove all traffic lights from towns. makes people pay more attention.
    i think it is a very good idea and we should do that here as well.
    no more speeding to catch that green. people paying attention at ALL intersections.
    and best yet people get frustrated and just give up on driving.


    • Take it down a notch

      Actually, no, there were all kinds of traffic backups. It was a mess.

    • HAHAHA. That’s a good one. Tried to turn left onto 50 from Henderson. Had to wait forever until some “nice” aka “law-abiding” drivers remembered that a non-working street light is treated a 4-way-stop. Too bad I didn’t have that CS Monitor article to read while I waited forever to get get my commute started.

    • shirley

      well one of the problems is that people don’t need to know what to do. the light always tells them.
      what if we retrain the rats to think and not rely on the lights to tell them what to do?

  • Lacy Forest

    How come PEPCO never thinks to blame squirrels? They should have realized the tree explanation was going to eventually get old. They should have alternated explanations.

  • SaveDaveMcKenna

    Has no one figured out how to squirrel proof the equipment by now?

  • SquirrelFritters

    Oh, they “can” squirrel-proof them, but this way is more sporting and tastier.

    • jan

      I wouldn’t count on it

  • CrystalMikey


  • CW

    Can I just say as a side onte that I LOVE the title of this article?

    • CW


  • BoredHouseWife

    poor squirrel


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