40-foot light pole falls across I-25N, damages vehicles

It was a scary scene in the middle of the night on I-25 this past weekend. A giant light pole was lying across the interstate — and a number of cars hit it.

Now the city is trying to figure out what happened.

Viewers sent in photos of the downed light pole on the side of I-25 North, sprawled out into the far lane.

Photos were taken moments before Albuquerque Police officers pulled it off the interstate between Rio Bravo and the Sunport late Saturday night. It caused blown tires and other damage as drivers repeatedly hit it.

According to one woman who sent pictures, her 16-year-old daughter was among about 10 drivers who pulled over just before midnight after running over the pole in the dark.

The poles along I-25, in addition to 20,000 others in Albuquerque, are owned by the city. Late last year the city signed a $20 million deal with the French company Citelum to convert them all to LED and maintain them for years to come.

“From a safety standpoint, from a neighborhood satisfaction, and environmental enjoyment, it’s going to be a win, win, win,” said city councilor Isaac Benton last year.

Now, a potentially deadly incident. The aluminum poles are 40 feet high and weigh up to 300 pounds. So how did this happen?

KRQE News 13 asked city officials and Citelum if the pole fell down — or if it was knocked down. They did not want to go on camera and said it’s being investigated.

City officials say the poles are designed to fall in the opposite direction if they are hit. They say it will take three to four months to replace the light pole and will cost $5,000.

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