Salem electrician wants poles checked

SALEM – City Electrician Mike Bibbee said he’s getting price quotes to check the weld strength and wall thickness on the poles holding up the traffic lights throughout the city.

The move comes just a few days after the westbound traffic lights on East State Street at South Broadway came crashing to the pavement after a reported strong wind gust Friday afternoon. No one was injured and no vehicles were hit.

Since then, a temporary light has been put in place for the westbound traffic until the pole can be fixed.

According to Bibbee, the damage to the pole appeared to be from the inside out. He said he was surprised by what happened, noting the poles have been in place since the downtown renovation done in the mid-90s and there was no indication of a problem.

In 2008, new signals and new cameras to control the signals were installed, but it was determined the old poles could remain. Bibbee said he inspects the traffic lights annually and just a couple of years ago, all the light poles in the city were wire-brushed, primered and repainted.

He said it’s difficult to maintain the inside of a pole.

For now, he wants to have the testing done on the 27 poles which hold traffic lights to see if there are other poles in question and what has to be done to fix them.

“We have to determine what’s going on,” he said.

He had no estimate for what the testing may cost or what would have to be done to fix the poles if more are found in need of repairs.