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Lawmaker wants action after Local 10 investigation into rotting utility poles

Lawmaker wants action after Local 10 investigation into rotting utility poles
Lawmaker wants action after Local 10 investigation into rotting utility poles

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – A Congresswoman is outraged after a Local 10 News investigation exposed rotting and neglected utility poles all over South Florida.

Residents say nothing gets done and they are tired of the runaround.

The utility pole behind Adassa Woodward’s Miami Gardens house is cracked, rotting, weak, bending and likely being held up by attached power lines and — a whole lot of luck.

The pole on the side of her house is cracked from top to bottom and hollow. Both have transformers on them.

At 80 years old, Woodward says the last thing she needs is to be surrounded and worried about rotting poles.

“This one here, I call them about three times,” she says, adding that nobody comes and nobody calls her back. “No one does anything around here. They don’t care.”

Local 10 News showed Woodward’s situation to Rep. Frederica Wilson, the Congresswoman representing the 24th District, along with photos from other residents who have reached out about the issue.

“Very disturbing,” Wilson said. “This is quite a danger zone.”

She added: “That is definitely neglect. My office is on this like a pit bull.”

The pole issues first came to Local 10′s attention last month when a rotting AT&T pole collapsed in Fort Lauderdale, almost landing on a woman walking her dog.

Only after a news story, and after Fort Lauderdale city leaders met with AT&T representatives, are poles in the area now being assessed and replaced. Residents say they have been complaining for years.

“We shouldn’t have to bring it to Channel 10,” said Tom Russell of Fort Lauderdale.

Said John Chisdey of Fort Lauderdale: “I just wish they had more accountability. This is a life safety issue.”

Christopher and Lynda Mallard had been complaining about the pole behind their Miami Gardens house since last year.

It’s also an AT&T pole with a huge hole in it. There is also a transformer on top.

The Mallards said they did talk to an AT&T rep several times, with no luck.

Only after Local 10 exposed their situation was a new pole put in. The equipment on the pole has yet to be transferred.

But poles don’t get this way overnight. Residents usually have to do their own investigating.

Who owns the pole?

Sometimes there are ID markers. Other times they have come off.

Every spot we have reported on has gotten the attention it deserves.

“But it shouldn’t take that,” Wilson said. “But sometimes that’s what it takes.”

Wilson’s office has been in contact with AT&T regarding the rotting poles we brought to her attention in her district.

“They gave their commitment that they would inspect them all,” Wilson said.

A bill passed that is now sitting on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for a signature would allow the public service commission to regulate inspections and replacement of poles.

The governor’s office says he is “working through bills now that the budget is complete” and that they will keep us posted.

Local 10 News has reached out to AT&T and Florida Power & Light.

AT&T sent us a vague response refusing to answer specific questions, claiming they replace or repair as appropriate.

FPL says they have 256,355 poles in South Florida and over a million statewide.

Of those, 150,000 are inspected annually, 2,108 were replaced in our area in 2020, 1,348 were replaced so far this year and 1,432 are on a list to be replaced.

As far as the overall pole issues, specifically with AT&T?

“It is unacceptable but it is fixable,” Wilson said.

If you have concerns about utility poles, you can report them to AT&T by calling 800-288-2020, or to FPL by visiting www.fpl.com/support/report-concerns.html


About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.