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Long-awaited utility pole project completed

October 10, 2018

Mountain Electric workers are using bucket trucks to reach and work on the lines at the intersection of Church Street and Main Street in downtown Mountain City, during last week’s power pole replacement project. The company came out in force to ensure that the overnight work was completed before the morning rush hour. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Employees from Mountain Electric, the Town of Mountain City, and local phone and cable companies worked through the night last week to perform much-needed improvements to the intersection of Main Street and Church Street. The nearly 11-hourlong project, which has been in planning stages for months saw the replacement of three poles and relocation of the traffic light control box on the southeast corner of the downtown intersection. The most pressing issue with the intersection was the utility pole that protruded into the street and was the scene for multiple traffic issues.

“That pole had been hit repeatedly by truckers trying to make that turn,” explained Public Works Director Gary Phillips. “You could see on the meter base where it had been hit several times by vehicles.”

A recent event with a commercial truck’s cargo becoming caught on phone lines and consequently dragging the wires off the pole also added to the urgency of repairs in the area. The troublesome pole on the Farmers State Bank side of the intersection was relocated three feet off the road. According to local officials, replacing a pole of this sort in Mountain City can present problems that workers in other areas of the country do not have to face.

“One thing about Mountain City is that we have to deal with rock and sand when we dig our holes,” said Bill Wilson, Mountain Electric Operations Superintendent. “We have to cut the pole off, pick it up, set it out of the way, dig the new hole and set the new pole. The holes sometimes fill in while we are digging them and we have to dig them bigger.”

During the project, workers took the opportunity to replace two other poles that were damaged and had needed replacing.

“One pole was broken underground, and another was also cracked,” Wilson stated.

The project required the intersection to be closed beginning at 5 pm Thursday afternoon and continued through the early morning hours Friday.

“We had everything accomplished by 3:30 am,” Wilson shared. “There were no problems, and everything went well. The Lord blessed us with a beautiful night.”

Those who traveled near the intersection most likely noticed the illuminated area as the workers toiled through the night.

“We had it lit up very well,” said Wilson.

It was a combined effort from employees of the town, Mountain Electric, and other utilities that made the project go so smoothly. “The phone and cable lines had to be moved before we could complete our part of the work,” Wilson added. “We helped them some and were able to get it done quickly.”

With the completion of the intersection project, the town’s utility pole work saw a major goal achieved as Phillips explained, “As far as poles needing to be replaced, there are a few others like perhaps Reece Avenue but none are as troublesome as that intersection.”

As for future projects, Mountain Electric has plans to continue improvements to areas of service that need attention.

“We have done a lot of work in Mining Town and are getting ready for a project at the Highway 167 intersection and half a mile down that roadway,” said Wilson. “We also have projects planned in the Antioch area. Wilson concluded. “We at Mountain Electric are always trying to increase reliability and safety.”

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Mountain Electric Company workers are busy repairing and replacing several power line poles
last week in downtown Mountain City. The overnight project took nearly 11 hours to complete. Photo by Tamas Mondovics