Cable power box hanging by a thread

WATCH DOG

Utility pole waits more than a year for removal after car accident, transfer of equipment

May 20, 2008|By LIZ KAY

THE PROBLEM // A utility pole damaged in a car accident remained in place with a cable power box dangling from it for more than a year, even though a utility company had installed a new pole nearby.

THE BACKSTORY // Catonsville resident Denise Stanco wrote to Watchdog with a perplexing problem she observed on North Rolling Road at Altavue Avenue, near Catonsville Community Park.

A utility pole there was cracked, the result of a car accident more than a year ago. But even though a replacement pole had been installed, the damaged pole was still in place. In addition, a pale-green metal box was dangling from the pole, held in place only by a rope.

Stanco wrote an e-mail to BGE last July. A "J. Hamilton" responded on July 14, saying that someone would inspect the pole as soon as possible. However, nothing changed with the pole - nor its precariously dangling equipment.

"How long will that rope hold?" Stanco asked in her e-mail to Watchdog last month.

"I just think it's something that slipped through the cracks," she said.

Watchdog asked representatives from the three companies that likely shared that pole - Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Comcast and Verizon - what had happened.

BGE spokeswoman Linda Foy said the pole in question is owned by both BGE and Verizon, but the power box belongs to Comcast.

After a traffic accident last year, BGE installed a new pole and transferred its equipment, spokeswoman Linda Foy said.

"What typically happens is when our person arrives on the scene and sees the ... pole, an assessment is made of whether there is imminent danger or not," Foy said.

If there is danger, BGE moves all utility equipment from the damaged pole, no matter whom it belongs to. The BGE worker last March determined the situation did not pose an immediate danger - an assessment supported by the fact that the pole was still standing, Foy said.

On March 16, 2007, BGE sent an electronic message to Comcast and Verizon notifying them to transfer their equipment.

Foy said that after receiving the reader's email in July, a BGE representative would have checked the system and seen that Verizon and Comcast had been notified.

Verizon and Comcast had no record of having been notified in March.

Comcast spokeswoman Aimee Metrick said the dangling box houses backup batteries and a power supply. The company moved the box and cable lines to the new utility pole Thursday after Watchdog alerted her to the problem.

Verizon spokeswoman Sandra Arnette said her company learned about the damaged pole from Watchdog last week.

"We don't show that we got anything," she said yesterday. "Normally we would get some kind of notification and have someone go out to the location."

It's unusual that this miscommunication took place, she said. "We normally work in conjunction. ... We usually have good notifications and work together."

After getting word that Comcast had moved its equipment, Verizon was to move its lines yesterday as well as remove the poll.

WHO CAN FIX THIS // To contact BGE about general problems, call 410-685-0123.

Liz F. Kay

UPDATE

After last week's Watchdog about a city transportation vehicle parking in a "no-stopping area" near the new Transportation Management Center on Calvert Street, observers noted that the city cars have been sticking to the nearby spaces reserved for them on Bath Street.

The article drew a variety of responses. One reader wrote an e-mail asking for clarification, because most of the cars shown in the photograph were in fact legally parked in spaces reserved for city-owned vehicles. However, one sedan on the left was parked on top of the white lines painted on the pavement designating a no-stopping area. A street sign also indicated that stopping was not allowed.

The Watchdog spy who reported the problem had noticed transportation vehicles parked there several times since the center opened in early May.

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