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S.R. 111 power pole repairs underway after wind damage

Microburst » More than 40 poles damaged, crews scramble to restring line.

By Bob Mims

The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Aug 06 2013 10:08 am • Last Updated Feb 14 2014 11:32 pm

Rocky Mountain Power crews hoped to complete initial repairs to dozens of downed electrical poles by late Tuesday afternoon, allowing southwest Salt Lake County’s State Route 111 to reopen.

Microburst winds are suspected of snapping two poles Monday evening, triggering a domino-like effect that eventually damaged 41 wooden power poles in all. Transmission lines sagged onto the highway, closing it between the New Bingham Highway and 8200 South. The downed lines also dragged a metal pole supporting a traffic signal at the S.R. 111 intersection with New Bingham Highway to the ground, said John Gleason, spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation.

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A sensor recorded peak winds at 45 mph where the Mountain View Corridor meets Dannon Way, according to the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. Another sensor near the Trans-Jordan Landfill recorded gusts of 42 mph. Neither are the kinds of gales that are supposed to bring down power poles.

"A line like this is made to withstand 90 mph winds," said Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Dave Eskelsen.

The company is focused on repairs right now, but it will be investigating how the first poles fell.

"We don’t know if there was some localized stronger gusts right in the vicinity of the [poles] or some other problem," Eskelsen said. "It’s a very rare event. It’s not unheard of, but I can only think of a handful of cases."

Eskelsen said it took crews less than an hour Monday night to reroute service to affected customers, but several factors kept the highway section closed on Tuesday while repairs continued.

UDOT said it expected the highway to reopen sometime Tuesday night.

The large number of poles affected, and the proximity of some to nearby high-capacity power transmission towers that necessitated extra caution, was slowing the work some. Additionally, care was being taken not to disturb fiber optic cable installations along the route, Eskelsen said.

While repairs were being made, traffic was diverted off of S.R. 111, also known as the Bacchus Highway, to the nearby Mountain View Corridor.

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Twitter: @remims


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