You’ve seen hundreds, yes, thousands of them. You may have traveled thousands, or tens of thousands of miles. Have you ever seen one being put in the ground? Have you ever seen one on a truck, heading to its permanent hole in the ground?
The picture above shows a place just across the highway from me getting a new pole installed. The truck you see had everything the workers needed to get it into the ground.
The augur bored a deep hole; the truck let the pole it was carrying slide down into the hole – the most hazardous, tricky part of the operation; the workers shoveled the dirt back into the hole around the pole – the only physically demanding part of the operation; as another worker tamped the dirt using a hydraulic pounder thingy, also attached to the truck.
In a tension-inducing operation after the pole truck drove out, a truck-in-waiting loaded with cable drove into the driveway and a single worker cut the cable, attached it to the house, then to existing poles already loaded down with electricity, phone and cable TV cables. Did I mention this cable was for carrying electricity?
The flaggers were interesting, too. A sub-contractor supplied two workers to direct traffic while the trucks were going in and out. They communicated by hand-signals, unlike walkie-talkie carrying flaggers on major highway projects. One of the flaggers told me they were trained to look directly at and smile at drivers they were directing.
The amazing thing is that today, I saw another truck like the one in the picture above carrying yet another treated pole. Was I just sensitized to this truck so that I noticed it? Have I missed dozens before, because I was day-dreaming while driving? I hope not.
My interest in utility poles is, perhaps, more intense than that of most people. A company that makes them is located in the area my business beat covers, so I’ve interviewed several managers there. Also, they are one of the few, if not the only, industrial operation that has added employees in our circulation area.
Also, poles come from trees, and timber is another important industry in our area. See how the pieces all fit together? If one of these is stopped for any reason, many others will fail. Think Roman Empire withering away.