A Forest of Poles

This item is a followup to the St. Clair Streetcar item immediately below.  My friend Matt over at spacing.ca asked me about the mess of duplicate hydro and TTC poles, and the visual clutter this produces.  This is an important issue in the redesign of St. Clair, and I thought that I would post my reply to him here for everyone to see.

There are two major infrastructure projects in progress that result in many extra poles although, in theory, at the end of the day the duplicates should (mostly) be gone.

1.  Toronto Hydro has been working to replace its old distribution system featuring box construction and many separate wires into the new standard high pole construction.  The primary (high voltage) lines are strung high on the poles, the stepdown transformers sit below them on some poles, and the secondary (low voltage) distribution cables run in bundles below this.

2.  The TTC is replacing all of its feeders as well as most of the suspension poles.  New and old sets of poles co-exist for extended periods.

I have noticed that Hydro and TTC have taken an interesting approach in some cases for this implementation.  Normally, you will see the Hydro infrastructure on one side of the street and the TTC stuff on the other.  Hydro goes in and plants new poles on the “TTC” side.  Over an extended period (this can take a year or more in some areas depending on complexity), services are gradually transferred over to the new Hydro plant.  Then, on a “when we get around to it” basis, the old plant is disassembled.

The TTC does the same thing in reverse by installing new poles on the opposite side of the street, stringing new feeder cables, and then switching over the feeds to these cables.  Eventually they pull out the old infrastructure.

In both cases, the old poles are left in place for quite a while because the work of removing them is done by a separate contractor, and they tend to “save up” this work.

All of this tends to create a huge amount of clutter, and there are cases (there are a few on Broadview between Gerrard and Queen) where there are duplications in the new plant because of timing problems.

If we are designing St. Clair from scratch and doing all of the work at the same time, this problem should not be allowed to happen.