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Newswatch 16 Investigates: Pole Problems Vex Local Communities

PLYMOUTH, Pa. — Crumbling bridges and roads marred by potholes get most of the attention when it comes to fixing our infrastructure, but in northeastern and central Pennsylvania, bent and broken utility poles seem to be a growing frustration.

In some communities, homeowners call their electric, phone, or cable companies about cracked or bent poles. Those homeowners often end up frustrated, saying calls to utilities wind up in futility.

In the center of Plymouth in Luzerne County, they dot the skyline.

Scott Cannon fears visitors to the borough’s business district will notice the “ghost poles.”

“It’s a terrible eyesore,” Cannon said. “They left the pole to hang there, and we don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

One of the so-called ghost poles is at the corner of West Main Street and Flat Road, dangling just over the intersection.

A Plymouth borough council member calls them dangerous.

“It makes our town look like crap,” said Clyde Peters. “You see them dangling off those wires. Anything can happen with them wires. And guess what? Them poles will come down.”

People from several communities in northeastern and central Pennsylvania share the fear of damaged utility poles. A viewer in Pine Grove sent us pictures of a pole on Swopes Valley Road that is so bent, one cable hangs just 10 feet off the ground.

Off Route 309 in Drums, nearby businesses say they’ve complained for four years about a cracked utility pole.

In Monroe County near Tannersville, Tom Randis is worried about a tilted utility pole bending toward his home.

“It’s probably going to fall half in the road and half in my front yard,” Randis said.

It’s bending so much, a utility line from the pole to his house is just four and a half feet from his yard.

“It’s just absurd. They won’t replace it. It’s just kind of frustrating,” Randis said.

We called Met-Ed which owns this pole.  A spokesman said the pole is scheduled to be replaced as soon as June 27.

UGI owns the poles in question in Plymouth. A spokesman says it had to create the so-called ghost poles because it cannot move the wires from the phone and cable companies to the new poles it put up in recent years.

“The last thing we want to do as an electric distribution company is to knock out internet service or cable to all of Plymouth,” said UGI spokesman Don Brominski.

Brominski says UGI told the phone and cable companies when it installed the new poles several years ago, but the other utilities have not responded.

Plymouth borough councilman Clyde Peters doubts the ghost poles will come down by August when thousands of people will visit Plymouth for the annual kielbasa festival.

“First thing they’re going to see are those poles. They’re going to say, ‘What kind of town is this? What’s wrong with them?'” Peters complained.

Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission tells Newswatch 16 that people who have safety concerns about a utility pole should get the ID number on the side of the pole then call their electric or telephone utility.

If the response leaves you unsatisfied, the PUC suggests calling its consumer hotline at 800-692-7380.


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