Elegant solution or jury-rigged joke?
November 28, 2009 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Is it common to remove a utility pole but leave a small chunk of it still in use twenty feet up?

This is all that's left of the utility pole that used to grace the corner my house sits on. Public Works re-did the street several months ago and the project included new sidewalks. The corner was reengineered while the workers and all the heavy equipment were tearing up the old and installing the new, the utility pole was removed and not replaced. At first we thought this slice of old pole would soon be replaced with either a new pole or at least a new connector or anchoring thingy, yet here it remains, looking a bit like it belongs on a joke picture blog. I've never seen this anywhere else.

It certainly appears secure enough but it sure looks a little weird. I've even heard passersby comment that it looks like a birthday cake caught in some wires. Will it be safe in the long term? Have you ever seen this? I'm also curious if there is electric power transmission involved.
posted by longsleeves to Technology (12 answers total)
It looks to me like some kind of tension wires are still attached. It could be that it's been left in place because it's easier and cheaper than replacing the wires.

Electricity won't flow through wood easily.
posted by Solomon at 11:00 AM on November 28, 2009

IT seems more to me the local phone company or electric company never got an answer from the cable company to move their stuff so who ever owned the pole did that with the cable wires.
posted by majortom1981 at 11:11 AM on November 28, 2009

Best answer: I don't know what jurisdiction you are in or who, initially, installed the pole. In jurisdictions that I have had experience with, a single entity, perhaps the electric power provider, installs and owns the pole. Other utility providers have a license to place their wires on the pole as long as they observe one or more standards such as separation of wires, etc. When poles are relocated, it is usually the responsibility of the party creating the need (in this case the entity that redid the intersection) to pay the costs of moving the pole and to notify all parties of schedules, etc.

It appears that one of the users of the pole wasn't on board when the work was done. That entity didn't show up to move its wires. The pole-owning entity simply cut the pole above and below the wires and did its own relocation work. What results here is a minimal but real hazard in that once there was a pole holding up wires and now there are wires holding up a piece of the pole. My guess is that the interested party will show up either within the next couple of months or immediately after the next serious wind storm.
posted by Old Geezer at 11:46 AM on November 28, 2009

From ninth grade up until I moved out, there were two sets of telephone poles running through our back yard. One set was clean, tall, straight and well-kept. The other was ancient, rotting and only half the height. You see, the summer before I started high school, the city wanted to replace the run of telephone poles down our block. They couldn't get the cable company to agree to move their wires, so in the end the power and phone lines were moved to brand new poles and the old ones were cut down to just above the cable lines - creating an even bigger eyesore. I'm thinking a similar sort of thing happened to you.
posted by wsp at 12:15 PM on November 28, 2009

Best answer: From the photo it looks like the only thing attached to the leftover bit of pole is the messenger wire for the cable-TV lines. Everything else bypasses the stub. I think this supports the theory that the local cable-TV company either didn't get the memo or was too cheap to do anything about it.
posted by hattifattener at 12:48 PM on November 28, 2009

In my neighborhood we have a handful of roughly similar issues. In one of them a tree limb has grown and is pressing down on -- and may eventually engulf -- a cable TV line. This is gradually pulling the pole over -- it's deflected as much as two feet at the top. If the pole goes, the cable line to one of our rentals will go, too.

The power company also stood us up on an appointment to access our property to trim junk trees on our neighbor's property that are impinging on the lines running to another of our rentals. It was their idea.

I haven't developed the impression that this sort of maintenance is very proactive. They'll fix it when it breaks.
posted by dhartung at 1:19 PM on November 28, 2009

I've seen this more than once don't know if its standard practice though.
posted by jmsta at 2:46 PM on November 28, 2009

Best answer: They'll fix it when it breaks.

Or when you call your local municipality tells them to fix it. I'm not usually one for calling in the petty tyrants in zoning depts, etc., but if this is indeed "a minimal but real hazard" then contacting the petty tyrants in the relevant local government department seems likely to fix the problem.
posted by mediareport at 8:42 AM on November 29, 2009

Or when you call your local municipality tells them to fix it.
posted by mediareport at 8:43 AM on November 29, 2009

Response by poster: Unfortunately, I can't call in the petty tyrants in zoning because there aren't any, the board is elected and they have to play well with others to keep their jobs. But I guess I assumed that the relevant inspectors were aware of it. I mean, you can't miss it.

Nut now that you mention it, I think I will e-mail public works.
posted by longsleeves at 4:01 PM on November 29, 2009

Response by poster: But.
posted by longsleeves at 4:01 PM on November 29, 2009

Or when you call your local municipality tells them to fix it.

Dunno where you are, but here the utilities are regulated at the state level, and municipalities have little leverage. I have called about streetlights being out, and if it's a power company light rather than a municipal light, it can be upwards of two months to see it light up again.
posted by dhartung at 2:21 PM on November 30, 2009

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