When old utility poles go bad, it’s not easy figuring out which company owns them

Problem Solvers
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Josephine Lisk worries about her grandchildren who practically live in her backyard during nice summer days.

“Don’t get close to that pole or it’s going to fall,” she warned them as they ran across the lawn.

Lisk is worried about a utility pole that, for the last few months, looks increasingly unstable.

“That one right there,” she said pointing to a pole that appeared to be held up mainly by the tree limbs it was leaning against.

Every time the wind blows, Lisk said she can see it move. Even the guide wire to secure the pole has gone slack.

Lisk called FOX4 Problem Solvers for help after calling several utility companies — all of whom examined the pole, but none of whom claimed it as theirs.

She’s not alone in her concern about aging, leaning poles. They’re everywhere. When they fall, you don’t want to be in the way.

Last year, Problem Solvers met a man whose truck was totaled by a pole holding tornado sirens in Wellsville, Kansas. Although the city owned the pole, it claimed it wasn’t responsible for the damage.

It can be difficult to determine the owners of old utility poles, many no longer have numbers linking them to a specific utility.

Although in Kansas City, Kansas, where Lisk lives, the Public Works Department’s Right of Way manager knows, in most cases, exactly which utility owns which pole.

A call to the city can often solve the problem.

In this case, Problem Solvers called AT&T, which had a sticker on the pole noting that its cable is buried under ground.

AT&T told Problem Solvers the pole wasn’t theirs. Despite that, the day after we called, AT&T replaced the pole with a new one. This one stands up strong and straight just like poles should.

In Wyandotte County, you can reach the UG Public Works Right-of-Way Manager at 913-573-5400 or deptpw@wycokck.org.

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