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Thread: Dealing with old exposed power poles and wiring

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Dealing with old exposed power poles and wiring

    We have about one mile of thoroughfare that is scheduled for improvements. The two lane road serving access to residential subdivisions will become three lane and four lane depending on traffic volume. Some partial lot acquisitions will be necessary. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to bury power and communication lines that are on the aging wood power poles.

    What are some techniques for hiding, disguising, or otherwise dealing with these eyesores that will probably be even more obvious as ROW is expanded and trees removed?
    Last edited by Streck; 30 Oct 2016 at 10:34 AM. Reason: Clarified wording.

  2. #2
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    In my opinion, you cannot. I've never seen a reasonable or cost-effective solution that doesn't simply draw the eye to the very problem you're trying to minimize.

    If you can't camouflage it, feature it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Hey, landscape architects: have there been no successful planting treatments to minimize the visual impact or divert attention from old existing wood utility poles?

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    Mod Gedunker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    Hey, landscape architects: have there been no successful planting treatments to minimize the visual impact or divert attention from old existing wood utility poles?
    The utility companies do not like trees near their wires nor near their poles. In the mid-west, especially, they hire tree trimmers to do terrible things to trees growing "too close" to the power lines. You wouldn't believe some of the urban trees I've seen with canopies turned into a "V" shape or an "L" shape or topped off. How they survive a windy thunderstorm is a wonder to me.

    They also illegally claim additional land adjacent to their easements (if they have them at all) by telling people not to plant anything that will grow within 15' of the edge of their easement. (You want to regulate my land? Fine, buy it!) Camouflaging them with landscaping is un-realistic, IMO.

    What you can do is seek to clean up the mish-mash of wires crossing the r-o-w and reduce the visual intrusion that way. You can also work with the communications companies to clean up their services as well. It's not as good as burial, but it does make a positive aesthetic difference.
    The old women used to say you could tell the next day’s weather, by whether you could hear the highway or the railroad at night. I recall that they were right more often than not.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    I like the idea if limiting the number of crossings of street ROW, if that is what you meant. Requiring burial? Or limiting crossings to intersections? Or separations of at least 100 yards?

    It seems like plantings of small trees like crepe myrtles would minimize overhead wire conflicts, and planting them at say a 45 degree angle outside of the overhead ROW would be a good way to disguise or visually divert attention from the rough poles.

    Any successful treatments similar to that in your area?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Why 45 degrees? I think that is the visual cone of attention while driving. Once past that angle objects no longer subconsciously grab your attention. (Just my uneducated opinion - no scientific data)

    The same angle would be applied to on-coming traffic, so two trees, each at 45 degrees from the pole would probably be sufficient to disguise or "obscure" or enhance the unsightly pole.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    It is standard for the municipalities franchise agreement with the utility provider to relocate the poles if necessary due to the transportation project. If the poles need to be replaced they will usually do so during relocation. This may help with the aesthetics somewhat.

    Another option is to upsize the poles via a metal standard to elevate them above the field of vision. The cost delta here is typically much less than burial and can be just as effective from an aesthetic point of view.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Are there any examples of aesthetically pleasing power/utility (wooden or metal) poles in suburban settings?

    Are utility companies at least responsible for maintaining verticality or other aesthetic factors by franchise agreement/requirement?

    What about aesthetic considerations of other utilities or service lines that are hanging sloppily from the same poles?

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