Utility Poles: Appendix 1
Partnership between Missouri DOT and utility companies to reduce utility pole crashes
The two largest cities in Missouri are St. Louis City and Kansas City. The main power company in the St. Louis area is AmerenUE, which maintains over 95% of the power facilities in St. Louis City and County, and has over 1.2 million customers in Missouri (customers in 54 of 115 counties in Missouri). In addition, there are three main power companies in and around the Kansas City Area: Kansas City Power and Light, Independence Power & Light, and Aquila. Two areas where Missouri DOT and utility companies have started collaborating are: (1) Developing pole collision tracking systems, and (2) Identifying countermeasures to reduce utility pole collisions through joint field visits.
Developing pole collision tracking systems to facilitate problem identification
Missouri DOT's crash reporting system records crashes involving fixed objects struck and the type of object struck. Utility poles are tracked through this process.
Ameren UE. AmerenUE currently does not track pole collisions; however, they plan to start tracking this information. In addition, they have agreed to contact Missouri DOT after each pole collision occurred on a State maintained roadway.
Kansas City Power & Light. Kansas City Power & Light does track information on crashes. Most of the crashes did not occur on state maintained roads. From the data, it was determined that only six out of two hundred and eighty collisions occurred on state roads.
Independence Power & Light and Aquila. Independence Power & Light and Aquila have advised MoDOT that they tracked pole collision information, and are planning to provide further information to Missouri DOT.
Identifying countermeasures to reduce utility pole crashes in specific locations
A review of Missouri DOT's crash records indicated that due to the relatively small numbers of utility pole crashes, very few collisions appeared at the same location. Since there was no simple way to query the current database to determine corridor or site-specific locations, sites were selected based on certain known roadway criteria where pole collisions have been documented in their crash reporting system.
Personnel from both Missouri DOT and AmerenUE visited these locations in order to identify possible countermeasures. Following is a brief discussion of 3 locations with a high frequency of utility pole crashes.
The first site was in Route 00 in Callaway County (Figure 1). This is a T intersection that has experienced utility pole crashes as motorists lose control and run off the road while making a left turn at the intersection. As motorists approach this intersection, very little warning is provided to indicate that they are approaching a T intersection. Hence, to reduce these crashes, it was felt that it would be important to provide adequate warning signs in addition to relocating the utility poles.
The second site was in Route 163 in Columbia (Figure 2). There are several utility poles very close to the edge of the road, in some cases within a couple of feet. Being an urban area with several businesses adjacent to this road, there is limited right of way available to move the utility poles away from the road. Placing utilities underground is a possibility, but that is a relatively expensive solution.
The third site was in US 54 in Callaway County (see Figure 3). This is a divided highway with some operating speeds exceeding 70 mph. Severe crashes involve utility poles have been experienced at this site as motorists lose control and run off road because they were driving too fast on the horizontal curve. One countermeasure will be to move the utility poles to the inside of the curve, which will reduce their chances of being hit.