Downed light pole prompts City to consider inspection program

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It was a scary scene near Ala Moana Center on Monday, in one of the most heavily-congested areas of Honolulu.

A light pole, with a traffic signal attached, fell across Atkinson Drive near Ala Moana Center.

“I’d say very lucky, because it could have been really bad,” witness and visitor Ron Martin said.

Amazingly, the pole did not hit any pedestrians or cars.

Makai-bound lanes were shut down for nearly three hours as crews cleared the area.

The City says the base of the pole was corroded internally, which was not visible on the outside of the fixture. Mother Nature also played a part in the incident.

“So on a windy day like today, there was just nothing that could have prevented it from toppling over,” Honolulu City Councilmember Stanley Chang said.

Chang says there are 1,500 to 2,000 poles like this across the island. The City does not have an inspection program for the fixtures.

Chang says the City does not know how many of them suffer from the same rust issues.

“We should seriously talk about an ongoing inspection program because we’re very lucky, frankly, it didn’t hit any cars or pedestrians,” Councilmember Chang said.

The City says this is the first time an incident like this has happened. The pole was 40 years old and was scheduled to be replaced in two years.

The City still uses this type of pole, but newer models have a stronger base to protect against the wind.

“It’s a very busy intersection,” Councilmember Chang said. “It could’ve been me, it could’ve been any driver that the pole could’ve fallen down onto. Because it’s a public safety issue, it’s something we need to take very seriously.”

Light poles are only inspected when crews are sent out to repair them, but not routinely.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he is open to creating a formal inspection program.

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