When utilities relocate poles for road-expansion projects, the linemen often replace all the poles and hardware. During a recent project in St. Louis, Missouri, however, a superintendent saved his company more than $100,000 by using a new work method.

Several municipalities were asking the utility to relocate poles to accommodate road construction. For example, the city of Maplewood, a suburb of St. Louis, contacted Ameren Missouri about adding a turn lane to a major thoroughfare.

Sliding Poles

Normally, the linemen set new poles because of multiple obstructions in the ground. However, several of the poles had to be relocated only 3 ft to 7 ft, so Superintendent John Beaver instructed the linemen to slide many of the poles slated for relocation, which saved both time and material.

In four different locations, the linemen dug a trench behind the poles and then dragged the poles over 3 ft or 4 ft. They then picked the poles up slightly and used a steel winch to drag them to the new locations. They also added slack to the lines to give them leeway, said Jeremy Pour, the overhead repairman who oversaw the job.

In a few instances, they had to replace existing poles with taller ones. For many of the poles, however, they were able to slide them over rather than setting new structures and transferring everything over to them.

Cutting Costs

After battling several storms and restoration efforts, a chance to work on something out of the ordinary was welcomed at Geraldine District. In fact, many of the crew members asked to be on the job that day.

Pour said that Ameren had never slid the poles before at the Geraldine District, and he had only done it twice during his career. By sliding the poles, he not only saved time, but he also saved money on the cost of material as well as the expense of transferring over the wire and equipment.

John Luth, manager of the Archview division, said the crews set six new poles along Manchester Road, but saving nearly $100,000 in sliding the other four existing poles was important when the company is watching its budget.

“Stewardship is one of our values and part of that is to do the job the best way possible,” Luth said. “The approach we used, to slide several of the poles over, saved us a lot of money and time. Most importantly, we were able to do the job safely.”

Brian Bretsch (BBretsch@ameren.com) is a communications consultant for Ameren in St. Louis, Missouri.