Cracks found in Seward Highway light poles

Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Inspectors have found cracks in the 150-foot-tall, six-ton light poles along the Seward Highway.

The cracks were discovered during a routine maintenance inspection over the summer.

The state Department of Transportation, which is in charge of the project, says the poles are safe. But the work is taking twice the time and costing tens of thousands more than expected. The state is still looking into how long the steel poles will last even with the repairs and it may eventually purchase new ones.

''The poles were definitely worse than anticipated,'' said Mike Malloy, a consulting engineering on the project.

The Seward Highway poles are about 20 years old. No one is sure why they cracked so much, especially close to the top where the stress load is less. Transportation officials say it may be 20-below temperatures, the freeze-thaw cycle, high winds or the cumulative effect of small earthquakes.

The poles were made by Union Metal Corp. of Canton, Ohio. Russ Poling, a Union Metal sales manager, said he knew of no systemic problem with the poles.

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