Leaning light poles along I-35 worry some drivers

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sandy Salas drives Interstate 35 every day to and from work and is afraid a damaged pole near 51st Street that’s leaning more toward one side than the other could soon tip over.

“It’s got a big dent and it’s tilting,” she said. “If a pole is leaning and it’s got a big dent then I would think it’s a hazard. It’s a pretty big pole so it’ll go across the whole freeway.”

And she is not the only one concerned about it.

“If it should fall over when it’s dark at night…that’s hazardous,” added Nina Zachary.

The one Salas pointed out wasn’t the only one not standing straight up. Just a couple miles north of 51st Street was another pole along the interstate leaning over. While the Texas Department of Transportation installs the poles, it is Austin Energy that operates and maintains them. A spokesperson for Austin Energy said they are aware of the lights and while they may look dangerous, engineers say they are structurally safe.

A car hit the pole on 51st Street last month and Austin Energy has ordered parts to replace the pole. But some others poles that are leaning, and are not technically damaged, will not be replaced. The utility company said they expect to have the damaged pole near 51st Street fixed within a few weeks.

We’ve looked into big problems with street lights and poles in the past and they can occasionally put you in danger.

In 2012, KXAN found some City of Austin light poles fall and destroy personal property like cars. At the time, the city inspected utility poles regularly. However, they now wait for complaints about problems with light poles. KXAN also looked into lights not working along I-35. Depending on your location, several jurisdictions including TxDOT, or the City of Austin, may be responsible for replacing lights.

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