Posts Tagged ‘Queen Anne’

45 Faulty Light Poles Found in Seattle

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment

SEATTLE, WA — Seattle City Light has uncovered more shock hazards from faulty light poles.

Crews inspecting metal light posts for shock hazards in Seattle found 45 problems, some with street light poles and others involving traffic signs.

Inspectors registered 100 volts coming off a faulty pole at one intersection in the International District. Another pole at Boren and Marion had voltage in the 105-volt range.

It was 90 volts that electrocuted a dog in Queen Anne. Sammy died Thanksgiving Day when he stepped on an energized sidewalk plate. Crews blame a lack of grounding and a pinched wire.

After several other complaints, the city hired two contractors to inspect all of the utility’s 30,000 metal poles and ground plates.

“We wanted to get it completed as quickly as we could, and we felt if we divided up the city between two different contractors, we probably could accomplish that in a quicker period of time,” said Suzanne Hartman.

The quick inspection process has cost the utility $300,000 so far.

“It’s not expensive when you consider the long term benefit for the customers and the city,” Hartman said.

But the city hasn’t yet added up the cost of overtime for city light crews making rounds with the inspectors and making repairs.

The inspectors, who look for anything above 30 volts, have found 45 shock hazards, more than half of which were emitting more than 50 volts.

“About half of the ones that we’ve discovered with the elevated voltage — we’ve been able to repair right on the spot. And the other half — we’ll have to come back and do something more extensive,” Hartman said.

Hartman says anything not yet repaired has been de-energized or turned off until it is fixed.

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More Dangerous Power Poles Found on Seattle Streets

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Seattle, WA – Three more potentially dangerous power poles have been found in Seattle, three weeks after a dog was electrocuted when it stepped on a metal plate by a lamp post on Queen Anne.

The three poles are on Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central District; one at 13th Avenue and East Aloha Street that carried 60 to 80 volts; one on Boren Avenue and Madison Street with 90 to 105 volts; and the third at 23rd Avenue and East Union Street that emitted 60 to 80 volts.

Anything above 50 volts is considered dangerous, according to Seattle City Light spokeswoman Suzanne Hartman. The metal plate on Queen Anne carried 90 volts.

Power to all three poles has been turned off while City Light crews try to find out why poles were emitting what City Light calls contact voltage, contact with energized metal like a light pole.

Hartman said the Capitol Hill area is one of City Light’s oldest service areas, and the poles where the problems were found were 30 to 40 years old.

The newest cases were discovered after the city said it was hiring contractors to help examine the light poles. One of the potential contractors went up to Capitol Hill and the surrounding area and found 10 poles with potential problems. City Light crews examined the poles and found three emitting contact voltage.

Hartman said no residents reported problems, and no one was injured.

After a second incident in which frayed wires were found in a High Point light pole last week, City Light said it would inspect all 20,000 metal streetlights and 10,000 metal street covers.

City Light went out and inspected all 170 streetlights in the High Point area to make sure there weren’t other problems, and found none.

Linesman Jim Ketelsen, a 30-year City Light veteran, was at High Point to test the faulty pole there. His voltage detector immediately went off. A volt meter told him that the pole was giving off 50 volts, a potentially dangerous level.

Work crews found frayed, exposed wires in the lamppost and made repairs.

On Wednesday, crews checked streetlight poles in the Holly Park neighborhood and found no problems. The lines crews came equipped with voltage detectors, fat green pens with yellow tips that beep if they come in contact with any voltage. 

Hartman said City Light asked utilities around the country about their experiences with contact voltage issues and was told that typically one in 337 streetlights could have problems. Based on that average, City Light could have as many as 60 poles with similar problems.

On Tuesday, crews checked all the poles in the Greenbridge neighborhood, which has lights similar to those at High Point, and found no problems. City Light hopes to have all the inspections completed by May, if not sooner, Hartman said. “We don’t want people to think the situation is unsafe,” said Hartman. “If people notice a streetlight is on during the day or flickering at night or if they walk by a metal pole and feel a tingling, report this immediately.

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Dog Electrocuted by Seattle Street Light Leads to Inspections & Fingerpointing

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment

SEATTLE, WA – The City of Seattle has checked street lights since a dog was electrocuted on Queen Anne Hill last week. Now, there is finger-pointing over the inspection that was done years ago.

Lisa McKibbin’s dog, Sam, was killed on Thanksgiving when he stepped on a street light vault cover. Seattle City Light says a pinched wire and faulty grounding led to the danger. Since then, City Light says 20 similar street lamps and vault covers nearby have been checked and are now safe.

But, accountability for what happened remains unclear.

The decorative street lamps were installed by a private contractor four years ago. City Light says the Seattle Department of Transportation did the project inspection and gave it the OK.

“The Seattle Department of Transportation is responsible for street light inspection along street right of ways,” said Suzanne Hartman with City Light.

SDOT says they inspected it, but there’s no documentation and they don’t know what that inspection entailed.

Another dog owner, John McDowell, says his dog, Oslo, was injured by the same row of street lamps just the day before Sam was killed.

“I looked down and Oslo was flat on his belly. It seemed like he had no legs, he just collapsed and the yelping was horrific,” said McDowell.

The electric shock split the rubber on the shoe McDowell was wearing.

McKibbin has hired a lawyer and Queen Anne residents simply want to feel safe on their sidewalks.

“It could have been me. It could have been a child. It needs to be fixed and the community needs to be assured that the sidewalks are safe,” said McDowell.

City Light’s inspection of street lamps is going to go well beyond Queen Anne. Starting next year, all metal street lights — some of them 30 to 40 years old — will be checked for safety.

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