Ugly Poles? - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

2.24.04

Ugly Poles?

     No doubt, if you live or travel in Wilmington, you've noticed something about an increasing number of intersections and their attendant traffic lights. There are large metal poles on the side of the street with an equally large metal arm extending over the roadway from which the traffic lights hang. The stand and arms are painted black. In the traffic management biz, they are known as "mast arms." and their main appeal is that they are practically impervious to weather conditions. They are designed to shrug off and laugh at a category 3 hurricane, like "Fran." ("Hazel"--the benchmark for storms in these parts--was a category 4.) The lights don't swing and sway on a blustery day. Plus, the mast arms need a lot less maintenance. And it takes only one of them to hold up a brace of stop-lights, instead of the normal two wooden poles. They're very effecient. That's the good news. The bad news is: they're ugly. Sorry, traffic guys--I know they're pretty in your eyes. They would look right at home in chicago or New York, where roadways, particularly the congested, multi-lane, high-speed ones, which often are merely valleys of concrete sunk between cliffs of more concrete, abound. But, Wilmington is not a city of cement; rather, it is a city of trees and history and scenery and often charming architecture. "Ambience" comes to mind. The mast arms, on the other hand, are "massive, monolithic, utility" in steel. Maybe we could paint them sky blue.
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