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Huge poles in Ravenna part of $1.8M project

Work on west side meant to boost reliability of city's power

By DIANE SMITH Staff Writer Published: June 20, 2017 4:00 AM
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One of them has been compared to a totem pole, and another has been compared to an oil derrick.

Now, a FirstEnergy Corp. spokesman has an explanation for why some of those poles going in along West Main Street in Ravenna seem so much larger than their predecessors.

Earlier this year, FirstEnergy launched its "Energizing the Future" initiative on the west side of Ravenna, as well as part of Ravenna Township. That involved removing multiple trees in Ravenna neighborhoods, causing ire among some residents.

First Energy is spending $1.8 million to rebuild the power line, which runs about 1.5 miles between two substations in the city, said Doug Collafella, a spokesman for First Energy Corp. The project includes new poles and wires and smart technology that can isolate power outages and boost reliability. The poles being replaced have stood there for many decades, he said.

The program was supposed to replace all poles, which stood about 85 feet high, with identical poles, Collafella said. The affected area roughly runs from the Brown Middle School area of West Main Street, east to Madison and West Riddle to the substation near Mill Road.

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However, when the new poles were installed recently, they didn't look identical to some residents. Some looked a little more stout and a bit taller. Others, like the metal structure at Spring Street and S.R. 59 in Ravenna Township, looked dramatically different.

Collafella said the project involves an extra set of wires across the top. Because of that, most of the new wooden poles along West Main Street are a little taller and a bit more stout to accommodate the additional weight of the extra wires.

However, the "totem pole" type structure, near Oakwood Street along the north side of Main Street, is different. It's what's known as a "stub pole," Collafella said. Its job is to hold up the pole across the street via wires connected to the top that cross the roadway.

However, it was put in the middle of the sidewalk, and a gas line in the area was blamed for its placement. City officials asked First Energy to either move the pole or re-route the sidewalk around the pole.

Collafella said that since sidewalk easements would be needed to move the sidewalk, First Energy has decided to move the pole back, into the yard behind it.

The large metal pole at Spring Street is located at a place where two lines change direction, he said. To avoid a large guy wire, he said, First Energy made an engineering decision to put in the large metal structure instead.

Patrick Jeffers, assistant city engineer for Ravenna, said the power company also agreed to set some of the poles back to avoid having to move them again during a planned future widening of West Main Street.

He also pointed out that First Energy is a public utility, and the city doesn't have a lot of control when it comes to such projects.

The new lines are expected to be "energized" by the end of this month, Collafella said.


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annoN6958 Jun 20, 2017 7:18 AM

We stupidly voted for the politicains that allowed this rape of bucolic Ravenna. Lines could have been put underground or along the tracks like other citiies. Our elected officials have sanctioned destroying residential beauty and values to a worthless industrial appearance. May the souls of the faithflly departed trees forgive the evil elected officials and profiteers.