Information on Thursday, September 27th’s Amber Alert was – and still is – missing in a few places.
The “Dynamic Message Signs” on I-74 near John Deere Road, I-280 in Rock Island County, and I-80 in Scott County are blank.
The Illinois Department of Transportation uses the signs to warn drivers about upcoming construction, traffic delays, inclement weather, and child abduction alerts. However, some drivers passing through the Quad Cities say they had no clue an Amber Alert was even issued.
“I had no idea until you told me about it,” says Jim Kearns, who was driving from Dayton, Ohio to Ames, Iowa on Thursday.
“We could have been looking a long time ago had we known about it,” says Jim Marshall, who has been a semi-truck driver for more than 30 years. “If we see an Amber Alert or specific vehicle, drivers look for it and we report what we see.”
The problem is not everywhere in Illinois. On travelmidwest.com, signs on major interstates like I-80 and I-88 show a “Child Abduction Alert.” These signs are operated by the Illinois Tollway. However, any sign controlled by IDOT show either construction updates or – in our region – nothing.
“I actually heard the Amber Alert on the radio and I did wonder why I was not seeing the signs lit up with that info on it,” says Pam Battering, who was driving through the Quad Cities today.
This is also not the first time something like this has happened. In July 2009, two children in Moline were abducted from their home. However, the sign on I-74 near John Deere Road wasn’t updated. It continued to tell drivers to watch for construction workers, not for a missing child.
“Obviously they’re worthless if you can’t get the message out,” says Kearns.
“You’re going to be losing a lot of opportunities to be able to find that child,” says Battering.
IDOT Officials say the signs in the Quad Cities are not working. They say they stopped working “relatively recently” and they’re in the process of finding a contractor to repair them, though they don’t know how long that will take.