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5Initiatives C. Paul Scott and Don L. Ivey In an invited address at the 1991 National Highway/Utility Conference a âcriticalmass packageâ was deï¬ned that was composed of 16 achievements taking place from1975 through 1991. The speaker asserted that âcritical massâ was compelling evidence that implementation of intrautility roadside safety programs was a positive, proï¬table, and responsible management decision. While this communication did not result in a great number of utility companies (utilities) striving to implement safety programs, it apparently was considered supportive of those already taking that initiative along with state departments of transportation (DOTs) and local highway agencies (HAs). Selected roadside safety programs and implementation efforts are described here. NEW YORK In 1982, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) embarked on a program to identify and treat hazardous utility poles. They called it the war on utility pole accidents. It involved a systematic approach patterned after NYSDOTâs Highway Safety Improvement Program. The process is as follows: 1. Safety problems and accident analyses are quantiï¬ed, leading to a prioritized listing of accident-prone sites. 2. The identiï¬ed locations are then investigated in the ï¬eld by NYSDOT and utilities engineers and subjected to a comprehensive engineering study. 3. Alternative solutions (countermeasures) are developed and analyzed to determine cost-effectiveness. Countermeasures, in descending order of desirability, are (a) re- moving poles and placing lines underground, (b) moving poles away from the road (the most common method), (c) increasing pole spacing, (d) encouraging multiple use of poles, ( e) relocating poles from the outside to the inside of curves, ( f ) using break- away poles, (g) shielding poles, and (h) if all else fails, marking and delineating poles with appropriate Manual on Uniform Trafï¬c Control Devices warning devices. Research indicates that about 50% of utility pole crashes involve poles within 4 ft of the road edge, while about 75% of all pole hits are within 10 ft. 22 C. Paul Scott, Federal Highway Administration, 400 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590. Current afï¬liation: TBE Group, Inc., 16216 Edgewood Drive, Dumfries, VA 22026. Don L. Ivey, Texas Transportation Institute, College Station, TX 77843.
4. Speciï¬c countermeasures best suited to reducing accidents in the most cost-effective manner are recommended for implementation. 5. The implemented accident countermeasures are later evaluated to determine actual performance, using appropriate measures of effectiveness. Two customized outputs identifying utility pole accidents are available with data ï¬les from the State Accident Surveillance System. The ï¬rst is a directory of all such accidents on the state highway system listed by reference marker for each route in each county. Seven years of data are included in the directory. To systematically identify the most severe utility pole accident sites, a second output was developed. Known as the âbad actorâ listing, it pinpoints the worst locations. Sites are prioritized within regions by a measure of accident frequency (at least ï¬ve accidents at the reference marker in a con- secutive 7-year time period) or severity (at least one fatal accident at the reference marker plus at least one other utility pole accident in a consecutive 7-year time period). In 1984, there were 567 locations on NYSDOTâs bad actor list. The latest version of the list (released in October 1994) had only 262 locations, a 54% reduction of bad actors in the 10-year period. PENNSYLVANIA The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has embarked on a sys- tematic approach to reduce run-off-the-road fatalities by concentrating improvements on those sections that have the highest frequency of tree, utility pole, and guide rail crashes. The distribution of utility pole crashes shows that over 36% of crashes occur on less than 4% of the roadway mileage. PennDOT has begun a substantial effort to address the problem relating to utility poles statewide. Its program involves several treatments and is implemented through the District Safety Initiative for low-cost improvements. In addition to an internal engineering initiative, PennDOT has taken a historic step to partner with utility pole owners in an effort to reduce utility poleârelated fatalities. On June 20, 2000, the Secretary met with the chief executive ofï¬cers of all major utilities to discuss this effort. To date, there has been cooperation from both sides in developing resource-sharing options that will allow PennDOT to share in the costs. PennDOT has also initiated a long-term low-cost improvement program composed of various speciï¬c initiatives. The Bureau of Highway Safety and Trafï¬c Engineering has provided the District Safety Units with crash information and locations where utility pole crashes are frequent (i.e., locations where three or more fatalities have occurred on a 1â2-mi section in the past 5 years). Guidance has been issued to the districts for use in identify- ing treatments at these speciï¬c utility pole locations. The combination of these efforts is expected to reduce fatalities related to utility poles signiï¬cantly. The effort will be imple- mented on a broader basis after effectiveness is evaluated as a part of the PennDOT goal to reduce highway fatalities in Pennsylvania by 10% by 2005. Speciï¬c PennDOT initiatives include the following: 1. Utility pole co-op: PennDOT has joined with utility pole owners to proactively ad- dress utility pole crashes in Pennsylvania. PennDOT has agreed to assist the pole own- ers with the high costs associated with relocations. PennDOT is exploring (a) acquiring right-of-way or reimbursing pole owners for some of the costs of acquiring right-of- way for utility pole relocations in rural areas; (b) contributing to the cost of placing utilities underground in suburban and urban areas; and (c) participating in the costs of consolidating utility poles on one side of the roadway and removing them from the other when they currently exist on both sides. 2. Rumble strips: PennDOT is actively pursuing ways to keep motorists on the road. One way of doing this is with the use of rumble strips directly on the edge lines of narrow roadways. Initiatives 23
3. Delineation: PennDOT proposes placing reï¬ective tape around poles where under- grounding or relocation is not a feasible option. Recent evaluation of reï¬ective tape around poles and trees in Pennsylvania indicates a signiï¬cant reduction in crashes. PennDOT is currently working with utility pole owners to compile speciï¬cations that serve the purpose and that are acceptable to both parties. JACKSONVILLE ELECTRIC AUTHORITY In 1989, what was then believed to be the ï¬rst intrautility roadside safety program was announced by the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) in Jacksonville, Florida. With a ser- vice area of some 2,000 mi2 in northeastern Florida, JEA had engaged in a cooperative study of the roadside safety problem with the Texas Transportation Institute (1). A program was installed under that study by King K. Mak to record and periodically analyze all police acci- dent reports in the service area. A document titled âRecommended Guidelines for New Installationsâ was prepared for JEA. Later it was modiï¬ed for general use and presented at a TRB session in 1989 (2). All areas subject to an atypical accident experience were to be prioritized for analysis and/or speciï¬c treatment of the 10 highest priorities each year. A level of expenditure not to exceed $100,000 per year was established for the treatment of as many of the prioritized sites as could be accomplished. A policy commitment was made to the overall goal of improved roadside safety and documented by Procedure Number MD 920, âRoadway Safety as Relates to JEA Facilitiesâ (Feb. 27, 1992). The following parts of MD 920 are of special interest: 1. Clear recovery area: New aboveground facilities should be located as far from the traveled way (or face of the curb, if a curb exists) as practical. 2. Number of poles: Reduce number of poles by emphasizing joint pole use and longest practical span length. 3. Accident experience: Safety measures will be used to improve trafï¬c safety for loca- tions with signiï¬cant previous accident experience. 4. Susceptible locations: Medians, trafï¬c islands, lane terminations, and right-of-way narrowing are locations to be studiously avoided. Perhaps one unique aspect of the program included a reliance on new devices, or devices new to the utility industry, which are included in the following: The Distribution Engineering Division will evaluate the use of breakaway devices, guardrails, crash cushions or other devices or design changes in order to improve road- way safety. WASHINGTON STATE In 1986 FHWA encouraged all states to develop a program for utilities to better conform to clear roadside policies. Washington State DOT (WSDOT) responded positively. In cooperation with the utilities in the state, WSDOT developed a program for systemati- cally alleviating hazards associated with utility poles and other utility objects. This pro- gram provides direction as to when and how the utilities may use public highway right-of-way and helps provide a safer roadside. The WSDOT utility object program is essentially a rural program. This is because cities and counties generally are responsible for the streets and highways in urban areas, except possibly for the pavement structure. The program covers about 6,000 mi of high- way containing utility objects within a control zone. WSDOT and the utilities work together to classify existing utility objects. They prefer to use the broader term âobjectsâ instead of âpolesâ to address utility facilities other than poles that might exist in a control zone. Utility objects are classiï¬ed as Location I, Location II, or Location III objects. 24 Utilities and Roadside Safety
Initiatives 25 Location I objects include utility objects located within the control zone in the following areas: â¢ Outside of horizontal curves where advisory signed speeds for the curve are 15 mph or more below the posted speed limit of that section of highway; â¢ Within the turn radius area of public grade intersections; â¢ Where a barrier, embankment, rock outcropping, ditch, or other roadside feature is likely to direct a vehicle into a utility object; and â¢ Closer than 5 ft horizontally beyond the edge of the usable shoulder. About 20% of the utility objects in Washington State are Location I objects. Location II objects include all utility objects located within the control zone that are not classiï¬ed as Location I or III objects. About 32% of the utility objects in Washington State are Location II objects. Location III objects include the following: â¢ Utility objects located outside the control zone, â¢ Utility objects within the control zone that are mitigated by an alternative counter- measure (located in inaccessible areas, shielded, or breakaway), and â¢ Location II objects that have been classified as Location III by the AASHTO cost- effectiveness methodology contained in the Roadside Design Guide (3). About 48% of the utility objects in Washington State are Location III objects. The WSDOT utility object program generally requires that â¢ New utility objects must be placed outside the control zone, â¢ Existing utility objects must be moved or mitigated in conjunction with highway construction/reconstruction projects, and â¢ Other existing utility objects must be moved or mitigated in a systematic manner in accordance with an annual mitigation target. If it is determined, through an engineering analysis, that a Location I object cannot be moved to Location III or mitigated, a variance may be considered. Through an engi- neering analysis and AASHTOâs cost-effective procedure, it will be determined whether a Location II object will be moved to Location III, mitigated, or reclassiï¬ed. WSDOT recognizes that conditions may arise that make it impractical to comply with the control zone policy. Examples of conditions rendering compliance impractical include the following: â¢ WSDOT right-of-way is inadequate to accommodate utility objects outside the control zone. â¢ Segments of utility facilities, because of terrain or other features, do not warrant being located in full compliance with the control zone policy. A variance may be considered by WSDOT to allow utility objects to remain or to be installed within the control zone. As initially set up in 1987, the correction of existing utility objects on highways, where no other construction or reconstruction was anticipated, was triggered by the renewal of a state/utilities franchise agreement. Utilities were required to relocate or mitigate util- ity objects within 1 year after renewal of a franchise agreement. This was troublesome to the utilities because it created excessively large expenses for them within short periods of time. In response to this concern, WSDOT asked the utilities to suggest a number of utility objects that might feasibly be relocated or mitigated each year. The utilities in turn recommended that the franchise trigger be replaced with an annual mitigation target (AMT) based on the number of objects in need of correction, size of the utility, resources available to the utility, and other criteria. This appears to be a more workable solution. The number of a utilityâs existing control zone objects to be relocated or mitigated in a given year is established by WSDOT and the utility on the basis of the following AMT formula:
26 Utilities and Roadside Safety where M = number of miles of utility-owned aboveground facilities located within highway right-of-way (multiply by 5,280 to convert to feet of facilities), N = utilityâs average line span length (ft), Z = percent of objects owned by the utility that are estimated to be in Location I or II, and Y = number of years for compliance (50 maximum). If a utility does not achieve its AMT in a particular year, the number of objects that are to be relocated or mitigated in the following year shall be increased so that the average number of objects that are relocated or mitigated over time equals its AMT. Conversely, if a utility exceeds its ATM in a particular year, the number of objects that are to be relo- cated or mitigated in the following year may be reduced. Utility objects must be physically relocated or mitigated to be counted toward the AMT. Utility objects required to be relocated or mitigated in conjunction with highway con- struction or reconstruction projects may be counted toward the AMT. The amount of util- ity object correction on highway improvement projects is correlated to the amount of other safety improvements planned for the highway project. WSDOT now reports a 35% reduction in pole accidents (4). GEORGIA Georgia has an active utilities coordination program. The impetus for this program is the Georgia Utilities Coordinating Council (GUCC). GUCC, through its more than 35 chapters in seven regions of the state, provides an overall cooperative process to exchange infor- mation and resolve conï¬icts in the utility and public sector. It also has standing and ad hoc committees to address mutual issues, one of which is the Clear Roadside Committee (CRC). The CRC is composed of members from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and from the electrical, telecommunications, and cable television industries. Recognizing that a disproportionate number of utility pole accidents were occurring in Georgia and other southeastern states, the CRC initiated efforts to improve policies for placing utility poles along public rights-of-way in Georgia. This involved developing a plan to relocate all potentially hazardous utility facilities within the clear zone on U.S. and state routes within a 30-year period. This was to be done by identifying critical areas based on prior crash history and prioritizing these areas for mitigation. This innovative effort was recognized by FHWA in 1998 with its presentation to the GUCC of the Best Overall Operational Improvement Biennial Safety Award. CRC recommendations for the placement of poles in conjunction with new or major rehabilitated facilities vary from a minimum of 6 ft in certain urban low-speed facilities to as much as 30 ft in certain rural areas (4). By consensus the group recognized U.S. and state routes as the most critical. GDOTâs Trafï¬c Operations Section prepared a report documenting crashes involving utility poles during a 3-year time frame and based on 3-mi stretches of road. These routes were pri- oritized by total number of crashes, not just fatal crashes. Total crashes and total injuries were considered, along with feasibility, to prioritize the relocation efforts. Not surprisingly, most of the locations identiï¬ed in this manner were in metropolitan areas. The top 10 sites ranked in this way were all located in Fulton County, the heart of the metropolitan Atlanta area. The CRC policy is based on a give-and-take premise. The utilities voluntarily move a certain number of poles each year to a safer location, and GDOT allows variances to its policy of not allowing pole attachments to any pole deemed to be within the clear zone. AMT = Ã( )[ ] Ã ( )M N Z Y 5 280,
The number of poles to be moved is estimated based on the number of existing poles that need to be mitigated over a 30-year period. The more crash-susceptible areas are to be treated ï¬rst. Poles relocated on a GDOT project to safer locations are included in the yearly totals. This situation is advantageous for the utilities, GDOT, and the traveling public. CRC recognizes that mistakes of the past cannot be changed overnight but, with a plan and a goal in mind, believes there will be an immense positive effect over time. FLORIDA In 1997 the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Florida Utilities Coor- dinating Committee (FUCC) began looking at the manner in which utilities were occu- pying highway rights-of-way and their impact on related injuries and fatalities. FDOT had been successful in making many positive changes in roadway elements (pavement surface, cross slope, culvert extensions and end sections, and terminal ends to guardrails) but had not been so successful with poles (signal, power, telephone, and lighting). Poles were the second most hit ï¬xed objects in the rights-of-way. FDOT, in coordination with FUCC, began taking steps to minimize the number of fatalities and injuries and the amount of property damage caused by utility pole crashes. They also began doing the same for trees, the most hit ï¬xed objects. Tree-related activities are occurring at a much slower rate because of environmental concerns and public opinion. Past attempts at dealing with the pole issue had driven a wedge between FDOT and utility representatives because the utilities could foresee only more restrictions and a one-sided approach. FDOT decided that whatever was developed must be applied evenly and must be beneï¬cial to all affected parties. The ï¬rst FDOT/FUCC activity involved an analysis of 10 years of accident statistics (national and Florida). This resulted in a determination that the frequency of crash involvement and associated injuries/fatalities was directly proportional to the frequency of conï¬ict points. The greater the number of conï¬icts in an area, the greater the number of crashes. Also, the greater the number of decisions that had to be made at a conï¬ict point, the greater the frequency of crashes. Examples of conï¬ict points are any type of intersection or place where a vehicle maneuver involves a signiï¬cant change in direction. This may include a ramp merge, a curved alignment with a radius of less than 3,000 ft and an operating speed of greater than 35 mph, and an intersection, whether signalized or not. These areas of conï¬ict were to become known as control zones after being fully deï¬ned. At this point of the process, only their longitudinal limits were known and not their lateral limits. The number of conï¬ict points and their associated length of inï¬uence were determined on the FDOT roadway system by using available data and applying some engineering judgment. For example, signal and lighting poles of FDOT were predominantly in inter- sections, whereas utility poles were most likely to be uniformly spaced along the rights- of-way. A model utility pole setup was adopted as the typical spacing for comparative analysis. It became clear where most fatalities and injuries were occurring. Many areas where utility poles were located had a zero or insigniï¬cant frequency of crashes even when they did not meet new construction clear zone requirements. In other locations, there were a high number of crashes for both utility and FDOT ï¬xtures. Thus, deï¬ning the nature of the area became the key to establishing a workable and cost-effective safety improvement plan. Not all recurring crashes could be tied to conï¬ict points, so another mechanism had to be incorporated into the model to address this situation. It was decided by consensus with the utilities that if (a) more than two crashes had occurred in any particular area, (b) within 3 consecutive years, and (c) in the most recent 5 years being evaluated, then this area would constitute a control zone by virtue of crash history and not geometry. It was under- Initiatives 27
stood that the intent was to identify high crash areas. If the cause of the crashes could be eliminated independently of any utility relocation, this would be the thrust. In some cases, the cause might be bad pavement, rutting, or superelevation that could be remedied by FDOT and would eliminate the need to relocate any poles. To ensure the proposed model was applied cost-effectively from a safety perspective, the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide Program (RDG-6) was adopted to facilitate a deter- mination of the cost based on risk of an obstacle being in one location as opposed to another. In essence, the program incorporates an algorithm that predicts the frequency and cost of crashes (property and personal damage) based on varying offsets from the travel lane for varied cross sections and conditions (3). A review of the program data showed the relative risk of crashes outside the new con- struction clear zone was acceptable, and therefore FDOT needed to concern itself only with objects placed or allowed in compliance with resurfacing, restoration, or rehabili- tation (RRR) criteria. Having now narrowed the problem area down to conï¬ict points within the clear zone, lateral limits for control zones were established. Thus, it was pos- sible to establish a program that emphasized proper analysis and placement under RRR criteria. With those controls in place, control zones became areas where FDOT wanted to add emphasis by controlling what would be installed in these areas and thereby reduc- ing the crash risk, even though they may meet RRR criteria. FDOT established its own cost factors for personal and property damage based on Florida accident data and modeled it after that contained in the RDG-6 Program. A benefitâcost factor level of 2:1 was adopted as the level where FDOT would require exist- ing utility infrastructure to relocate on RRR projects. For new construction, only a 1:1 ratio needed to be shown to be cause for relocation. FDOT also established other conditional criteria and standards that are contained in its Utility Accommodation Manual to ensure relocation is cost-effective and even-handed. Analyses conducted in the development of the pole safety program model indicated that the utilities were spending up to 74% of their relocation funds where only 44% of the crashes were occurring. This indicated that money was being spent to relocate poles that were not in high-risk crash areas. The ultimate result was development of a program that identiï¬es high-risk areas and concentrates effort and funds only in those areas in sup- port of a cost-effective solution. FDOT and the utilities have clearly received a beneï¬t through revisions in the process of evaluating crashes along the roadway. The new process applies to FDOT and utility pole installations whether new or existing, whether on an FDOT construction project or where no project is planned. Use of the model allows a utility to leave poles in place that meet RRR criteria but not new construction criteria in areas where analysis and crash his- tory support such decisions. This in turn reduces utility relocation expenditures along much of the roadway and allows those funds to be used in more critical high-risk control zones. This approach is logical and acceptable to the utility industry. The end result is that the roadway user reaps the beneï¬ts of a safer highway through a more cost-effective allo- cation of available funds. LAFAYETTE UTILITIES SYSTEM The Lafayette Utilities System (LUS), located in Lafayette, Louisiana, has implemented a utility structure crash reduction program to achieve greater public safety and reduce LUSâs costs of vehicle collisions with utility structures. LUS begins by categorizing utility structures as follows: Category 1. Sites where poles are subject to repeated collisions, Category 2. Sites where poles are subject to purely random collisions that are unlikely to be repeated, and Category 3. Sites where poles do not seem to ï¬t either Category 1 or 2. 28 Utilities and Roadside Safety
Initiatives 29 LUSâs general approach is as follows: Step 1. Continue to monitor collisions with utility structures to determine which of the preceding categories they best ï¬t. Step 2. Apply predictive analyses to heavily traveled thoroughfares to determine the relative probability of collisions in selected areas or sites. Step 3. In the areas and sites that are prioritized by Step 2, determine the relative degree of consistency with the recommendations in the Roadside Design Guide. Each year a number of utility structure locations will be selected for treatment by using an appropriate combination of Steps 1, 2, and 3. The gradual development of priorities for 2002 through 2005 using the preceding three steps should result in a program where about 10 high-priority sites can be im- proved each year. When it becomes difï¬cult to ï¬nd sites where treatment would result in safety improve- ments, the primary goals of the LUS program will have been accomplished. Note, how- ever, that new roadside development through the years, changing trafï¬c patterns, volume or speed, roadway geometry (especially roadway widening), or wet pavement friction can result in new zones of questionable safety. LUS will sustain a long-term awareness to the need for site modiï¬cations relative to maintaining roadside safety. The expected beneï¬ts to LUS resulting from the implementation of this program are as follows: 1. Increased safety for the citizens of Lafayette, 2. Increased safety for the customers of LUS, 3. Savings in maintenance costs, 4. Savings in lost service and time, 5. Increased safety for LUS maintenance staff, 6. Positive local and national public relations (considered especially important in the age of deregulation), 7. Identiï¬cation as one of the most progressive utilities in the nation relative to utility pole safety, and 8. Savings in legal costs. ONGOING DEMONSTRATIONS Of the highway safety structures available to protect vehicle occupants during utility pole collisions, only one has been designed speciï¬cally for utility poles. It is the steel- reinforced safety pole presented in Figure 1. FHWA sponsored research in the early 1980s to develop an economical âyieldingâ timber utility pole that would increase the safety of passengers in impacting vehicles and satisfy design criteria of the utility industry. The resulting design, called the Hawkins Breakaway System (HBS), was successfully crash tested at the Texas Trans- portation Institute. By 1986, HBS was deemed ready for selective implementation (5). HBS was subsequently improved during field tests in Massachusetts. This modified design was called the FHWA design or Massachusetts design. The original designers subsequently modiï¬ed the Massachusetts design again. The latest design is called the AD-IV (6). Earlier installations were commonly referred to as breakaway timber utility poles, but a more descriptive term, steel-reinforced safety poles, is now used to describe the devices. FHWA provided technology application funds in 1989 for experimental installations of the FHWA design in Kentucky and Massachusetts and again in 1995 for installations of the AD-IV in Texas and the FHWA design in Virginia.
30 Utilities and Roadside Safety On January 27, 1993, FHWA upgraded the HBS and FHWA (Massachusetts) designs from experimental to operational. This meant FHWA was satisï¬ed the yielding device had performed satisfactorily in full-scale crash tests and had demonstrated satisfactory in-service performance and deemed it appropriate for the devices to be used routinely on federal-aid highway projects. On June 17, 1993, FHWA approved the AD-IV design for use on federal-aid highway projects. The HBS, FHWA (Massachusetts), and AD-IV designs have all been found crashworthy in accordance with criteria set forth in NCHRP Report 230 (7) and with more current criteria set forth in NCHRP Report 350 (8). Approval of the use of the HBS, FHWA (Massachusetts), and AD-IV designs for routine use on federal-aid highway projects does not mean steel-reinforced utility poles are man- dated by the FHWA. Instead, they are considered to be one of several countermeasures available to a state as it considers what action to take in addressing utility pole safety. An overview of the installations is presented in the following sections. KENTUCKY The Kentucky Utilities Company retrofitted 10 existing No. 3 utility poles in 1989 in Lexington with the FHWA yielding device. These poles were retroï¬tted in the ï¬eld with- out encountering any serious problems. Experience has been positive in the way the poles perform in high winds (up to 80 mph). Maintenance costs in the ï¬rst 2 years of use consisted of those necessary to straighten the upper segments of the poles. This mainte- nance was not necessary after that because wood shrinkage becomes minimal after a year or two of exposure. Poles were evaluated for 2 years, but because they were not selected in areas known for collisions none has ever been hit. Because of changes in facility size and relocations, six of the poles remain. (a) (b) (c) FIGURE 1 AD-IV steel-reinforced safety pole: (a) full AD-IV pole; (b) steel base; (c) steel upper connection.
MASSACHUSETTS The Massachusetts Electric Cooperative and the New England Telephone Company installed 19 new utility poles near Boston. These poles were prefabricated and contained the safety hardware when delivered to the site. The HBS design was substantially modi- ï¬ed for these installations. The modiï¬ed design is called the FHWA or the Massachusetts design. As with the Kentucky poles, the steel-reinforced safety poles in Massachusetts were evaluated for 2 years. During that time, although they were exposed to wind, ice, and snow, no pole failures from these natural forces occurred. An incident in Massachusetts in 1991 (Hurricane Bob) displayed the ability of the poles to resist wind loadings that top- pled conventional poles. Poles in Massachusetts were hit ï¬ve times during the evalua- tion period by errant vehicles (there have probably been several more collisions since then). There were no serious injuries, no loss of utility service, no safety problems rela- tive to linemen, and an average repair time of 90 min. In all these crashes, the poles were found by utility personnel to be quicker and easier to repair than standard poles, pri- marily because the need to transfer service lines was eliminated. An in-depth report documenting the performance of the Massachusetts poles was pre- pared in 1992 (9). Since that time, the poles have been observed at periodic intervals. Some have been replaced with conventional poles, but those that remain are in excellent condition, including both galvanized steel elements and the wooden pole segments. An early concern was that cutting the poles at the base and upper hinge point would pro- vide avenues for wood deterioration. This has not been a problem. TEXAS Six AD-IV design poles were installed in 1994 on an urban arterial between Fort Worth and Dallas by Texas Electric Company. To date only one collision has occurred at this site. It occurred on March 13, 1995, and involved the one pole of the group that had been improp- erly installed. It was placed on a 11â2:1 slope about 10 ft off the paved shoulder. The bottom of the slip base was installed too high, almost 12 in. above the ground line at the part of the base farthest from the traveled lane. An effort was made to regrade the slope to the proper level but heavy rains immediately before the collision eroded the newly placed soil. In spite of that, the pole functioned during the collision and serious injuries did not occur. Snagging of the car frame on the slip base lower plate clearly increased the decel- eration levels on the vehicle and the delay in slip base activation resulted in fracture of the middle length of the pole and tilting of the part of the pole in the ground. The result was that the pole had to be completely replaced. The new installation met appropriate geometric criteria (10). In the 3 years the AD-IV poles have been in place, there have been several instances of high winds, including a hail storm that destroyed virtually every roof and west wall of every building that was not sheltered by trees or other buildings. Texas Electric Com- pany engineers note that some wind gusts were as high as 80 mph and that some con- ventional poles were downed. The AD-IVs sustained no damage. VIRGINIA In 1995, Delmarva Power installed ï¬ve poles on the eastern shore of Virginia. The design used was that of FHWA. The results from Virginia are as follows: â¢ No maintenance costs or problems, â¢ Several instances of high winds without pole damage or even modest deformation, and â¢ No collisions. Initiatives 31
The ï¬eld experience with steel-reinforced safety poles has been overwhelmingly pos- itive. William Quirk of Massachusetts Electric, who was intimately involved in the Mass- achusetts work where at least ï¬ve impacts have been recorded, has stated emphatically, âThe breakaway poles have saved us money.â MARYLAND FHWA and the Maryland State Highway Administration initiated a pilot study in 1999 to delineate utility poles and other man-made ï¬xed objects within the highway right- of-way. The purpose of the study was to enhance roadside safety in a cost-effective man- ner when removal, relocation, and shielding of man-made fixed objects were not feasible. Recognizing that about 5% of Marylandâs fatalities result from collisions with utility poles, FHWA and the Maryland State Highway Administration met with representatives from Allegheny Power, Bell Atlantic, PEPCO, and BT&E to coordinate the delineation of a sampling of poles. Pilot roadway sections totaling 70 mi were selected on crash data and geometrics. All man-made ï¬xed objects were delineated within the pilot roadway sections with a 12- Ã 6-in. yellow reï¬ective sheeting material. It is considered probable that delineation has a positive effect, although this has not yet been statistically validated. Because many crashes are random, the study will be con- tinued for several years before delineation effectiveness can be assessed. REFERENCES 1. Jacksonville Electric Authority Announces the Implementation of the First Intra-Utility Road- side Safety Program. Texas Transportation Researcher, Vol. 27, No. 2, 1991, p. 8. 2. Ivey, D. L., and K. K. Mak. Recommended Guidelines for New Utility Installations. Presented at the Symposium on Safety in the Clear Zone and Utility Installations, Committee on Utilities, TRB, Washington, D.C., June 25, 1989. 3. Roadside Design Guide. AASHTO, Washington, D.C., Jan. 1996. 4. Transportation Research Circular E-C030: Utility Safety: Mobilized for Action and State, City, and Utility Initiatives in Roadside Safety. Presentations from TRB Committee on Utilities (A2A07) from the 79th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., April 2001. gulliver.trb.org/publications/circulars/ec030/ec030.pdf. 5. Ivey, D. L., and J. R. Morgan. Timber Pole Safety by Design. In Transportation Research Record 1065, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 1986, pp. 1â11. 6. Alberson, D. C., and D. L. Ivey. Improved Breakaway Utility Pole, AD-IV. In Transportation Research Record 1468, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 1994, pp. 84â94. 7. Michie, J. D. NCHRP Report 230: Recommended Procedures for the Safety Performance Evaluation of Highway Appurtenances. TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 1981. 8. Ross, H. E., Jr., D. L. Sicking, R. A. Zimmer, and J. D. Michie. NCHRP Report 350: Recommended Procedures for the Safety Performance Evaluation of Highway Features. TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., 1993. 9. Buser, R. P., and C. A. Buser. The Breakaway Timber Utility Pole: A Survivable Alternative. Publi- cation FHWA-SA-92-046. FHWA, Sept. 1992. 10. Hehr, C. C. The First Installation of Breakaway Timber Utility Poles in Texas. FHWA/TX-95. FHWA, March 1995. 32 Utilities and Roadside Safety