Vehicles 5, Fixed objects 1

6 Feb

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A little enhancement to yesterday’s AJC story about the morning power outage in Midtown:

A few minutes before 9:30 a.m. there was a muffled explosion, quickly followed by another explosion, which was accompanied by a reddish-yellow flash of light. Believe it or not, I didn’t think much of it. It had been raining for two days. When I lived in Peachtree Hills, there was a transformer that could be relied upon to blow up in a shower of silver-blue sparks at least a couple of times whenever it rained for more than 24 hours.

But when I looked outside about 10 minutes later, the street was blocked by three police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance to the south. A large, black Chevrolet pickup truck with a utility pole right in the middle of its hood was straddling the curb to the north. There were also two small trees missing.

Soon the firetruck and ambulance left and workers from Georgia Power and Diversified Services arrived. One of them examined the crumpled front of the truck and the damage to the utility pole for a few minutes, then started back up the hill. As he passed, an upstairs neighbor out on her balcony asked him how long the power would be out. “It’s gonna be a while,” he replied.

“Is he dead?” she asked.

“Naw, ” he said, chuckling a little.

Some people already out on the sidewalk said that they’d seen the driver of the truck walk away from it, apparently unhurt, and be taken to one of the police cars. A couple of them seemed to know him, but just looked at each other and smiled a little when asked what happened. One woman in the group seemed especially agitated and said “I bet he won’t take nobody else’s keys!”

The two trees I’d noticed missing had been thrown down the sidewalk. One of them was sitting balanced upside down not far from the truck. The other had been launched past the end of the building and was lying in the middle of Currier Street.

After the truck was towed away, it was clear that the utility pole hadn’t just been knocked over, it had been broken off at the base and pushed a couple of yards away.

The electrical technicians dug the huge splinters out of the ground, installed a new pole and reconnected the wires within about an hour.

This is at least the second time someone has run off the road right in front of this building. In July a car left the road and knocked over one of the trees and a fire hydrant, leaving a mess of mud, tire tracks, water and leaves down the sidewalk.

This part of Piedmont Avenue is a one-way street five lanes wide – a traffic flow design that would seem more appropriate for an expressway than a street passing through the middle of the city. There’s also a great deal of pedestrian traffic on this part of the street. This isn’t likely to be the last of this type of accident. Next time it might be more than trees that are killed.

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