Council to decide placement of utility poles on Fourth Street
There are still more delays for street improvements along Fourth Street.
On Monday night, the Tonganoxie City Council discussed a meeting city officials had with Westar Energy Inc. officials about the placement of utility poles along the third phase of improvements to Fourth Street.
Westar told the city it would not be liable for accidents that might occur if the poles are located 1.5 feet from the curb when Westar, and the city engineers, recommend the poles be placed at least 5 feet from the curb. BG Consultants is the city’s engineering firm.
Brian Kingsley, of BG Consultants, wrote in an e-mail that the purpose of the distance recommendations is to give drivers more time to avoid hitting the pole if they do leave the road.
“A driver has more time to react if an obstruction is 6 back from the curb than if the obstruction is 1.5 feet back from the curb,” Kingsley wrote. “Keep in mind a power pole has the potential to be a lot deadlier obstruction than a breakaway sign post, for example.”
The Kansas Department of Transportation recommends 6 feet of clearance from the curb to the utility pole and prefers 8 feet, but exceptions would be considered.
Councilmember Paula Crook, who lives on Forth Street, temporarily excused herself from her position as a councilmember to discuss the issue.
She said that people already have signed an agreement with the city about the current plans and the current placements of the utility poles. Now the city is trying to change the plan and move the poles.
Crook showed the councilmembers other streets in the city where utility poles were located closer to the curb than the KDOT recommendations to demonstrate that the city has done it before and could do it again.
Kingsley told the council that showing KDOT or Westar other places where mistakes have been made was not a way to justify making another mistake.
Bard said city officials looked at the current plan and the city’s current easement to see if they could relocate the poles farther back.
Councilmember Tom Putthoff wanted more time to talk with Westar to find out why the plans were approved by Westar if it didn’t want to set the poles that close to the curb.
Bard said city staff will contact Westar, and will have more information by the June 22 council meeting.
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