News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Dallas deals with a different kind of traffic menace — rats with an appetite for stoplight wiring

Dallas is battling an issue with rats damaging wires inside traffic signal cabinets.

The next time you say "rats" when you drive through a malfunctioning traffic signal, you may be right.

Gus Khankarli, director of Dallas' Department of Transportation, said an increase of so-called "rodent-related challenges" are causing traffic light problems.

“This is a new challenge that we are facing. We have rodents now starting to get in our traffic signal cabinets,” he said.

Rats can chew through wood, concrete and even metal. Wiring appears to be on the rat menu as well. These pesky creatures are damaging the controllers that ensure our traffic lights switch from green to yellow to red.

Rat damage
City of Dallas
An example of a damaged traffic light signal cabinet where rats have chewed on the electrical wires.

Other factors messing up traffic lights include corrosion, natural disasters and technical challenges.

Khankarli's team is replacing broken and older signals in Dallas. Since 2019, his team has replaced more than 50 traffic lights that were constructed before 1980 and installed over 100 new ones.

“The importance we want to contentiously see progression and decline in the number of traffic signals before 1980,” he said.

Khankarli said that the city has also installed new technology that allows his team to see all traffic signals in the city. This will help the department identify which signals are not working and fix them quicker.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.