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Rte 1 In Calais Reopens After Power Poles Fall - Feb. 19, 2013

CALAIS, Maine (WQDY NEWS) - Tuesday was one big headache for power crews and motorists after a pair of utility poles fell and brought lines down across busy Route 1 in the city's Red Beach section.

The trouble began at 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, according to Charlie McAlpin, Communications Director for Calais-based Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative.

When the poles fell, power to nearly 800 homes and businesses was lost in Red Beach, Robbinston and parts of Perry and Pembroke..

Service was fully restored 13 hours later.

ABOVE: Utility crews work to restore lines Tuesday on US Route 1 in Calais-PHOTO COURTESY EASTERN MAINE ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE

In between those times, with Route 1 closed, motorists were left with quite a lengthy and circuitous detour to get into Calais from points south as were  those drivers who rely on Route 1 to head south towards Robbinston or Perry.

As for EMEC members, the utility did some rerouting of its own to get some power to homes. 

"We were able to do some switching over the course of the morning so that more than half of those -- we were able to feed from another substation," McAlpin told WQDY NEWS.

Route 1 reopened to traffic at 5:30 p.m.

"Unfortunately, the way the wires went ... there was not really a way of doing repairs on a pole that is carrying electric, phone, fiber optic and cable and do that with traffic going by underneath it," McAlpin explained. So the Maine Department of Transportation closed Route 1.

Various crews worked all day to restore the poles and services for power, telephone and cable.

"We're grateful to Calais emergency services and MDOT for helping us reroute traffic," McAlpin said. "We appreciate everybody's patience with us."


It started with two poles and then ...

"There were two poles that were down when we first got there and two poles that had been damaged. We had to replace four poles," McAlpin said.

The exact cause for why these poles failed wasn't immediately known.

McAlpin said it wasn't the result of an accident, wind or rot. The cold temperatures may have been a factor but EMEC will be taking a closer look to try to determine just what happened.

ABOVE: Crews back at the scene on Route 1 Wednesday afternoon with flaggers just in case. One of the broken poles rests in a snow bank-WQDY NEWS PHOTO

STORY: Tom McLaughlin WQDY-WALZ   

PICTURES as credited