City covers exposed streetlight wiring
When an informal survey of Hartford, Conn.’s streetlights revealed open hand holes in several light poles, city officials launched a 45-day project to seal the shafts. During that time, city workers examined 2,500 streetlights and used a variety of materials — including steel and plastic — to make the needed repairs.
Streetlight hand holes allow workers access to the wires that connect a streetlight to its power source. A missing cover leaves a gaping hole at about knee height to an adult. Most streetlight wiring in Hartford is insulated and safe even if exposed, says City Facilities Manager Frank Vernile.However, some wires could become frayed and dangerous to a curious child or adult reaching into an open hand hole.
Additionally, Hartford has had difficulties with people stealing the aluminum covers to sell as scrap, according to Public Works Director Arthur Miller. Vernile says that there also has been some streetlight vandalism that may be related to drug activity, with dealers dismantling lights or using stands to hide drugs.
To secure any wires exposed by those activities, the city undertook the replacement initiative. During the project, workers surveyed local streetlights, and, when they located an open hand hole, they installed a new cover or recorded the need for a replacement.
In most cases, the city used the same type covers as those that were missing. However, the largest covers, which are most valuable as scrap, were replaced with steel to help prevent vandalism.
Additionally, some streetlights had screw tabs that were stripped or broken when the covers were removed. The city used a universal cover, developed by Angel-Guard Products, Worcester, Mass., for the six-inch and eight-inch poles with damaged tabs. The plastic cover has no resale value as scrap, and, since removal requires a special tool, vandals are not able to easily steal the product and damage the lights.
The hand hole repair project is scheduled for completion this month. Hartford will maintain all of the city’s covers on an as-needed basis.