CHICAGO (CBS) – Another rusty city pole fell in a busy Chicago intersection on Thursday, this time in Streeterville.
Faulty streetlights are a problem CBS 2 investigators have spent years digging into. The city promised a solution, promising to get rid of the dangerous light poles – but now again another one has fallen.
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CBS 2’s Tara Molina brought the issue back to town on Thursday. Using Google Images, we discovered that the fallen pole at Columbus Drive and Grand Avenue on Thursday morning had looked questionable for years.
So Molina asked the Chicago Department of Transportation and the mayor’s office why nothing had been done about it.
Thursday morning, before the snow reached the Chicago area, the lamp post was flat right in the middle of the intersection of Columbus and Grand.
Chicago police and city crews surround the rusted pole – in a busy area of Streeterville with a grocery store, bank and hotel nearby. Luckily, no one was hurt when the lamppost crashed.
That was not the case a few years ago, a block away, when a pole fell on the Jeep of a 25-year-old woman at Illinois Street and McClurg Court. This incident left the wife, Isabella Keating, with the concussion and prompted a lawsuit against the city.
Before that, there was Maya Kirk, who was hit by a falling lamp post while on her way to work in the Loop on Nov. 21, 2019. She called the city of Chicago for failing to maintain or repair streetlights all over town.
Kirk suffered serious hearing and leg injuries when the pole broke at its base as she passed the James R. Thompson Center at Illinois State near 161 N. LaSalle St.
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“I just thought it fell on me,” Kirk told CBS 2. “How am I still here?”
I spoke to the Chicago attorney who is still representing these two women. He said both want repairs and reform – and believe none have happened yet.
The faulty pole problem prompted the city to commission a $2.5 million audit years ago, in which surveyors examined and graded all of Chicago’s poles — more than 300,000 of them.
CBS 2 investigators broke that audit in December and found that 10% — more than 30,000 posts — had been classified as having an issue of concern. But we analyzed all the posts with an address around the one that fell on Thursday in Streeterville and found none with disturbing marks.
We learned from the city that the particular pole that fell on Thursday is a traffic pole, so it is not listed in this audit. CDOT said in a statement, “The investigation for Chicago’s smart lighting program focused specifically on streetlights.”
But Google Images shows it’s been rusting for years. An image in 2015 shows rust on the bottom, and the same is seen in 2016 and 2017 – when Google Images showed a much clearer image of a fully rusted base.
CBS 2’s Molina asked the city if all the poles had been checked after the rusty pole fell a block away in 2020, if the pole at Grand and Columbus had ever been inspected, and if it was part of the audit or not.
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Meanwhile, just last week, we received a press release from the city announcing that they had completed their streetlight retrofit program. We were still waiting to hear from the city Thursday night if they had checked the condition of the poles by turning off the light bulbs.