May 21, 2018
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Failed guy wire anchor likely caused Washington County Route 1 blockage

By Tom Walsh, BDN Staff

CALAIS, Maine — Indications are that the daylong closure of busy Route 1 and a power outage that affected 790 homes and businesses in Washington County on Tuesday were caused by the failure of two guy wire anchors that were embedded in granite.

Two utility poles owned by Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative snapped off at ground level and fell just before 5 a.m. across a stretch of the busy highway about 8 miles southeast of Calais. Traffic was blocked in both directions until 5:45 p.m. with drivers rerouted a distance of about 22 miles via secondary roads.

Charlie McAlpin, communications director for Calais-based electrical co-op, said Wednesday that there is no indication that the poles were faulty.

“We’re not 100 percent sure what happened, but it looks like these anchors failed when an area of granite gave way, for reasons unknown,” he said. “There’s no indication that there was any problem with the poles themselves. These poles do carry a lot of weight, as Route 1 is a major feeder not only for electricity, but for phone, cable TV and fiber-optics.”

The two poles that came down on the east side of the roadway were replaced, as were two others on the west side of Route 1 that showed cracks from the structural stress of the collapse.

McAlpin said the process of replacing the four poles and restoring normal electrical service to homes and businesses in Red Beach, Robbinston and parts of Perry and Pembroke was complicated by having to summon drilling equipment from Ellsworth to drill new holes in granite ledge before setting the four new poles.

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