Melissa Tacchi, Community Editor

Linesmen keep powerlines intact in cherry pickers in a pole exchange March 28. (MELISSA TACCHI | The Miami Student)

After numerous tests indicating the power line poles on Sycamore Street were rotted through, Duke Energy decided to finance their replacement.

According to Lineman Josh Bowden, the energy company hires a specialist to drill holes into the poles to see if they are hollow inside, indicating they are rotten and no longer safe.

“We are replacing the most dangerous poles first that could come down during storms,” Bowden said. “If they had fallen down unexpectedly they could have knocked out the power for the whole city including the hospital and campus.”

Bowden said Duke Energy hired his company to replace approximately 75 percent of the poles on Sycamore Street this week. He also estimated that approximately 70 percent of all of Oxford’s power line poles need replacement.

“This project began two years ago and will probably continue for two more years.” Bowden said. “We have had to replace a lot more poles because there has been an increase in wind storms and we want to prevent power outages.”

Bowden said before construction began, Duke Energy acquired a permit from the city. Therefore, the financial support for the Lineman and Area Wide Protective (AWP) services are sponsored by the energy company.

“I think it is great that Duke is keeping up with the power line poles to make sure that no one gets hurt,” junior Megan Shefte said. “We also don’t need another blackout like 2008 again.”

According to Rachael Mitsoff, an employer of AWP, one of the greatest problems the construction crew has faced has been a lack of cooperation from community members.

“We put out signs, road cones and caution tape and still people walk right where they are not supposed to,” Mitsoff said. “We will also find that when we put up ‘no parking’ signs people will move them and park there anyway. Eventually they will have to be towed.”

Bowden also shared his concerns for pedestrians who disregard the warning signs.

“We are working with 7,200 volts up there,” Bowden said. “We are not looking at the ground when we toss things down so it is incredibly dangerous for people to be walking underneath us.”

According to Bowden, the Sycamore Street construction will be finished at the end of the week. However, the company will be back in a couple of months to replace more rotted poles.

“The 11 hour work days are ending and its back to Georgia for me,” Bowden said.