Elizabeth from Centennial writes, “What’s driving you crazy? I was wondering if Jayson knows how and who changes the burnt out light bulbs on Parker Road just south of I-225? Those poles are super tall. Every time I drive there I wonder who has a ladder that big and who wants to climb it. Not me!”
This is an interesting question Elizabeth. The short answer is that the responsibility for maintenance of the overhead road lights depends on where it is. For lights within incorporated towns and cities, the local agency is responsible for all maintenance and electrical costs for outdoor lighting. This is determined by Colorado statute. In most cases, the local agencies include maintenance of street lights in their franchise agreement they make with their electrical service utility provider. Xcel Energy services most of the metro Denver area, including this section of Parker Road which is in the City of Aurora.
The utility company may in turn either perform this work with their own employees and equipment or contract it out to an electrical contractor. It is the responsibility of CDOT to maintain the lighting on state highways located in unincorporated areas. CDOT does the maintenance as well as pays the electric bill in those areas. CDOT’s region 1 that includes Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Douglas, Broomfield, Denver, Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties has a seven-person crew of electricians and equipment dedicated to this and other electrical maintenance tasks.
As far as getting up there and changing the bulbs, rather than ladders, lights of moderate height are normally accessed using a bucket truck which is basically a small crane with a partially-enclosed personnel platform "bucket" at the end. The person in the bucket wears a harness that they attach to the bucket for fall protection. As you said, better them than me up there. The very tall lighting installations incorporate a pulley system so the workers can lower the lamp housing down so that maintenance can be performed on the ground.