Replacing light poles costly for cityPublished 12:04am Sunday, May 27, 2012
NATCHEZ — Natchezians may start seeing fewer and fewer decorative light poles around the city.
Natchez City Engineer David Gardner said the expense to replace poles knocked over by drivers is becoming too much to maintain without an adjustment to the city budget.
Gardner said the black poles installed in stages in the last few years are made to collapse or breakaway when hit, to prevent serious injury to drivers.
Gardner said the city can fix some poles, but sometimes poles have to be replaced.
Replacing the poles, Gardner said, costs an average of approximately $3,000 to $6,000 and can be a hassle.
“We try to get accident reports and work with the driver’s insurance company, but we’re having trouble getting the insurance to pay all the expenses,” Gardner said.
Gardner said the city has claims for expenses for four or five light poles currently pending with insurance companies.
Another problem, Gardner said, is hit-and-run drivers.
“We’re doing the best we can, but we have no way of knowing who the hit-and-run drivers are, so that expense falls on the city,” he said.
The decorative light poles were originally placed on the state highways in the city limits by the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
They have replaced older, metal poles in many places.
Gardner said the placement of the poles near the road leaves little room for error for drivers.
“Cars can easily maneuver off the road just a few feet and — bam — they hit it,” he said. “Some of them are also right in the curve where big trucks have a tendency to get over a bit.”
Since there was no memorandum of understanding or discussion of who would maintain the poles between the city and MDOT, Gardner said the expense has fallen on the city.
“We had spare poles, but we have already used all those,” Gardner said.
Gardner said he believes the city will need to create a budget line item for the poles, allotting funds to replace the four to six poles that have to get replaced each fiscal year.
“We need to allocate at least $10,000 a year,” he said. “That will just be for damages to poles. In a couple of years, we’re going to have to start replacing bulbs and other parts. It’s something we need to think about.”
Gardner said he hopes the city and MDOT have a complete understanding of the cost and responsibility of maintenance on future projects before they are started.
“It’s important that the city knows what it’s getting into,” Gardner said.