Ledger Inquirer: More puzzling pieces of poles pose problems

February 3, 2013 

We've been getting a lot of complaints about utility poles here at Inquirer Headquarters lately.

This week's comes from a gentleman who calls himself Citizen James. He wants to report three problem poles similar to one we addressed last year. That was the mysterious hunk of pole dangling by cable TV wires where a new pole had been put in place in Windsor Park. The new ones are on Weems, Warm Springs and Hamilton Roads.

But before we address the specific problems, let's have a brief Utility Pole Primer, so we'll know why these problems might sometimes appear.

First, the city doesn't have a dog in this hunt. I suppose if you call the city's 311 service number, they could call the proper utility, but they would have no way of knowing which one to call.

Georgia Power Co. owns most of the utility poles in the city, I'm told. But not all of them. AT&T owns some, too. You can tell the difference by looking for a small metal tag nailed to the pole that has the company's logo. Georgia Power's are oval. AT&T's are square.

Something else to keep in mind: Georgia Power's lines are always at the top. They carry the juice, so they're kept away from the telephone and cable lines, and their workers. As a rule, the AT&T phone lines are the lowest lines and the cable TV companies run between them.

When Georgia Power moves its lines to a new pole, it will often "top" the pole, sawing off the top part so it's easier for the other utilities to disconnect their lines and lift them over the old pole to connect to the new one.

At that point, AT&T can't do anything until the cable people move theirs. If they tried to lift their line over the cable lines, they'd just twist around each other and you might hear Pat Sajak talking to Vanna on your land line.

This brings us to the mysterious floating chunks of utility poles around town. Is it possible that AT&T got tired of waiting for the cable guys (insert joke here) and just removed the rest of the pole and went under instead of over?

Terry Smith, who handles AT&T media relations in these parts, said he's never heard of them removing the lower section and leaving the middle hanging.

"I just don't know what the situation would have been where we would have sectioned it out and there would be a chuck of pole left," Smith said. "Obviously if that's the case that needs to be addressed because that sounds like a safety issue to me."

I sent him the addresses and he said he'd look into them.

As far as cable companies go, I left a message with Knology, which actually has a local number. Mediacom has a toll-free number that gives you free access to the phone tree from hell.

Update

The Mohina Woods utility poles we wrote about last week did not belong to Georgia Power, whom I called to report them. But the nice people there contacted the owner, AT&T, and got the old poles taken out.

Problem solved, poles removed and we got a free lesson in the study of poles, which I believe is called polemics.

Seen something besides a #*&% utility pole that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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