UPDATE: The state Department of Transportation inspected 40 light poles along Moanalua Freeway.
Crews found rust on nine poles. While the poles were not as rusty as the one that fell Monday afternoon, the state says they will be removed.
The cost to replace a light pole is about $3,000, not including costs associated with lane closures.
ORIGINAL POST: The state will begin inspections along Moanalua Freeway after a rusted light pole fell and crashed onto vehicles.
We first learned about it from a viewer, who sent us pictures using the Report It feature on our website.
It happened Monday afternoon as vehicles headed eastbound on N. King Street, right next to the freeway.
We wanted to know when this light pole was installed and if more inspections are now needed.
The pole is about 30 years old and part of an upcoming lighting improvement project.
We also spoke with one of the drivers whose vehicle was damaged. She saw the pole falling but had no time to avoid it.
Elaine Pahio tells us the pole clipped another vehicle first, but her car ended up with the most damage.
“It just dropped right in front of us and I pressed on the brakes. I knew we were going to hit it, because there was no where else to go,” said Pahio.
After all that, Pahio is grateful no one was seriously hurt.
“I just keep thinking if I was just a minute or a second earlier, it would have landed on our roof,” said Pahio. “When you see it, you don’t believe when you leave the house, you might not come back. It’s really emotional when you think about it. We are alive. That’s the main point.”
Pictures show part of the problem. We confirmed with the state that rust and heavy winds caused the pole to fall.
We asked state Department of Transportation officials if they check the structural integrity of these light poles and if they do, how often are the inspections?
“A lot of times we get spot requests to check up on poles, usually when the cosmetic mortar is worn away,” said department spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige.
Kunishige also tells us light poles are usually replaced when crews do roadwork in the area.
The ones on Moanalua Freeway are about 30 years old with a lifespan of about 30 years.
We learned the pole in question and all the lights along Moanalua Freeway from Halawa Heights to Middle Street are going to be upgraded.
The bid opening was last month. We’re still waiting to hear back when the project will start.
“So there was a plan to replace all the poles, but in the meantime, our lighting crews are going to go and check,” Kunishige said.
In light of Monday’s incident, she said, “our district guys will be sitting down and talking about that, looking at the age of our poles on our roadways.”
Crews will be checking the light poles in the area Tuesday night to see if other poles are rusted.
We’re told the pole that fell won’t be replaced until the project begins.