Updated 4:43 p.m., CL&P has not determined cause of Main Street explosion.
NORWALK, Conn. – A traffic signal pole that collapsed Saturday and sent eight traffic lights crashing onto Wall Street had corroded from within, Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord said Tuesday.
Alvord said the pole had been brought to him to look at. “It corroded from the inside. There was no indication on the outside of the pole that it had rusted through or anything like that,” Alvord said. “The last time we had worked on that light was late fall of last year. Every time we work on a light we do a visual inspection of all the components.”
The pole at the intersection of Main and Wall Streets collapsed at about 8 p.m. Saturday. Norwalk Police Sgt. Terrence Blake said, “An officer in the area investigating a motor vehicle accident heard a crash and then located the pole down. It appeared to have fallen over based on the officer’s report. The report indicates that the traffic lights at the intersection of Wall/Main were the only ones downed.”
No one was injured. Alvord said he would research how much each of the lights weighed, as it varies, and provide that information Wednesday.
He said he thought DPW would be able to get a wooden pole from one of the electric companies the department works with. There are components in storage that can be used tos replace the light “fairly quickly,” he said.
That would be temporary, he said. Norwalk has been replacing traffic signals in phases with federal grant money. The idea now is to work that light into Phase III, which is being designed now, he said.
“That’s why we were so interested in getting our entire traffic signal system replaced. We have been very fortunate to get now up to $9 million,” Alvord said.
There were 15 traffic lights replaced in Phase I and eight replaced in Phase II, he said. He expects to replace 10 more in Phase III.
“We started in what I’ll call the urban core,” Alvord said. “The initial 15 went into South Norwalk, MLK and that kind of thing, then we’re spreading outward from there. The second phase started to spread out from the urban core, the next phase is going to go out yet another step. There are 85 signals in the city’s system so it’s going to take us a while, depending on how much we can get.”
The collapsed pole was down the block from an underground explosion about a month ago, in front of the New York Bakery. Alvord said he didn’t think the two events were connected. “My expectation is if it had it would have probably happened at the time of the explosion,” Alvord said, adding that the two spots weren’t really that close.
He said he was told the explosion was due to an electrical malfunction. CL&P spokesperson Tricia Taskey Modifica said, “At this time we are still investigating to determine the exact cause of this explosion.”
Work at the intersection of Main and Wall has been contemplated for some time, Alvord said. First there was talk of redesigning the crosswalks at Landmark Square, he said. When that turned out to be too expensive, there was talk of working intersection improvements into the Head of the Harbor development.
Some NoN commenters have said the intersection is working better without traffic lights. Alvord said he had been down there and although it was chaotic, people were being cordial in figuring out what to do.
“It’s not the same as having a traffic signal. So it seems to be working OK right now, but I want to get them replaced as quickly as we can,” he said. “…We’re going to sit down and look at whether or not we can put that back into Phase III, which is in design right now. In fact we already have a design to do that sitting on a shelf. We would like to put that into Phase III, that is what I would like to do.”