Tuesday, August 18, 2015

El Paso Electric Doesn't Care about Historic Districts or the Safety of People

Flood on Elm Street. Arrow points to the new location of a power pole. Insane - right?

El Paso Electric Company doesn't care about historic districts or the safety of people. Here's the story:

The El Paso Electric Company without prior approval from the El Paso Historic Landmark Commission has proceeded to erect new electrical poles from Wheeling Avenue to Frankfort Avenue. These forty-five foot poles are higher than traditional poles, higher also than neighborhood trees. Approval was based on reaching a compromise with the neighborhood associations, particularly the Manhattan Heights Neighborhood Association, an historic district. There was no compromise reached at an August 11, 2015 meeting at the Memorial Park Garden Center.

Members of the historic district as well as Newman Park Neighborhood Association to the north have real concerns about the contruction of the new poles. It's not just that they are ugly and that this diminishment of aesthetics reduces home values and the quality of life of the neighborhood. It is also a matter of safety.

Presentation by Engineer, Saul Arriola, showing the dangers
of the project.

The poles are being planted a mere six inches or less from a very old and decaying 1920's vintage sewer line not twelve inches which is the industry standard. Moreover, poles are buried just 5 feet into the ground rather than the standard 6.5 feet. A recent rupture in the sewer line was repaired with a cement patch demonstrating the precarious condition of the pipe line. In addition, Elm Street has traditionally been a stormwater path. If there is a significant rain (as we have this time of the year), Elm Street becomes a river rushing powerfully downhill. The possibility of erosion or a sinkhole caused by flooding or a sewer leak is high and, therefore, the probability of a pole falling down increases. Imagine the danger that has to residents, motorists and first responders. 

View the slide show above.

EPEC seems to be motivated by the cost-factor. They want to do the job as cheaply as possible. They are ignoring what is called "Failure Mode Evaluation and Analysis". What is the severity of the failure? (Electrocution, damage to structures, death) What's the probability of failure? (an old sewer line rupturing and worse a flood) What's the likelihood that failure will go undetected? (the concrete sidewalks mask the impending failure of the sub-surface)

The reason for putting new power lines through any part of the neighborhood is the increased demand caused by more people using central air. (I do cherish my evaporative cooler.) EPEC says that they will evaluate alternative paths in terms of cost. Neighbors will only have their word on it. 

What usually happens? The utility will finish the job that they have begun because afterwards there is little recourse. 

Do read the public comment and view the pictures about this project as well as view the pictures in this document.

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  1. This company has gone ROGUE!
    Get vocal El Paso - EPEC can't hear those that don't complain!

  2. Good Ole King Larry,
    Your Romero Poles on Elm Street are an absolute horror - It's amazing how you favor these 45 foot electrical monstrosities.
    Perhaps a modern monument to your reign.

    If you condone them ... you own them!!