The Danvers Director of Public Works updated the Board of Selectmen last night about the status of so-called double-utility poles in town.
David B. Lane told the board that the town has 242 double poles — which are created when a utility company attaches a new pole to an existing one in need of replacement — compared to 246 double poles in June.
The poles are generally considered an eyesore.
“The Electric Division staff reports that numerous double poles were removed over the summer and fall, however, there were also a significant number of new double poles added,” Lane’s report to the board states. “The most significant source of new double poles is the major electric construction projects which require new, relocated, or taller poles.”
Lane said 76 poles are due to construction projects, and of the remaining 166 poles, 23 are ready to be removed. He also said 143 are waiting for utility line location. There is an order for which utility companies can remove their lines from the poles. A database accessible to all companies informs the utilities when it is their turn to remove their lines.
In Danvers there are 80 poles ready for Danvers Electric to move their lines from, 129 poles that are ready for Verizon to remove their lines from and 10 poles ready for Comcast to remove their lines.
Lane said Verizon was doing a better job of removing lines before its labor dispute and strike hindered their efforts.
“The Electric Division stays in contact with the staff at Verizon and intends to push for this work to increase over the next few months,” Lane's report said.
But Selectman William H. Clark, Jr. said Verizon has not consistently addressed the problem.
“In a couple of occasions there are poles that have been there for two or three years that they still haven’t transferred,” Clark said in an interview shortly before Lane’s report last night. “From my observation from going around town most of the double poles we have left in town is the result of Verizon not finishing their transfer of telephone cables on the lower end of the pole.”
“[Verizon] has gotten rid of a few of them. I saw they got rid of four in the last month. It’s nowhere near enough. There are more being created than are out there. They are all tied up with the construction of 128 and they have not aggressively gone after these poles proactively. They are not maintaining their infrastructure of the hardwire system. They don’t care about it. They want Fios in and they want to get as much profit. They don’t care about the infrastructure they have to replace.”
Verizon spokesman Philip G. Santoro said this year's weather events, including tropical storm Irene and the Halloween snowstorm, hindered their ability to work on poles. He said they removed 10,000 double poles statewide last year.
“At the same time, 9,000 new ones were created as a result of electric power upgrades and road construction projects,” Santoro said in an email before adding, “the vast majority of double poles are created whenever the power companies are upgrading their service, which, of course, is essential to meet the growing needs of consumers. The other major reason for double poles is that work required for road construction projects.
“Whenever a double pole is created, it is necessary for all of the companies and entities that have attached wires, streetlights or other equipment to the old poles to transfer them to the new poles.
They include the electric (for power and sometimes street lights), cable, and phone companies as well as the municipal fire alarm and street lights We meet regularly with all entities to ensure that transfers are conducted in a timely manner throughout the state.”
Santoro said it’s a continuous process that they are “striving” to keep pace with.
“We recognize the need to minimize the existence of double poles and we are doing everything possible working with others – including municipalities -- with pole attachments to make that happen,” he said.
Clark was upset about a triple pole in Danvers at Donegal and Locust streets. Lane said last night that the town has to move the primary electric lines from the second pole to the third pole in order for Verizon to move its lines from the first pole to the third.
“This work is planned to begin within the next two weeks,” Lane’s report said.
Justin A. Rice can be reached at email@example.com.