red tape
April 16, 2010, 9:49 am
Filed under: pittsburgh, utilities | Tags: , , ,

Well we’re getting a new education over here at the Acres. On many fronts this month I’d say, but the funniest one has to do with our utility cut. As we move to colonize our little patch the biggest area left for goatie goodness is the utility cut. We’d like to fence it in and use it. But at the moment it seems unsafe. The cable and phone lines are a mere 8 feet off the ground in the middle. Being responsible types we are trying to do the right thing–calling about to get them raised. WOWSA–it has been a surprisingly fascinating look into the burgh bureaucracy.

I had no expectation that this would be an easy process. I started early–in the winter in fact. I called the power company. They came out, said nah those aren’t our low wires, call phone and cable. Ok so I phone them. They each come out. Naah we can’t raise them–I’ll send a supervisor. Supervisor comes out. They’re all very nice guys, and they promise to make it happen. They give me their numbers. They leave. I call back.

The recent week I got my phone on and started the cycle anew. Cable says they’ll come out Wed. Phone says they’ll come out when cable is done. On Tuesday–2 big bucket trucks with cable reels, another truck and four guys show up to do the job. WHAAT? I just happened to be home. They get out. Oh, this is the job? Naah we can’t do that. They’re the kind of guys who have motorcycles and don’t wear helmets. They’re wearing those head do-rag things that bikers wear. Their first job of the day ended similarly. They’re having fun driving around looking at phone lines and not doing any work!

While they’re there holding up the traffic on the road (there are two houses past us, and naturally we end up with a car at both ends during the five minutes the trucks are here–one trying to get in one trying to get out), a cable truck comes up. He’s got no supplies, just a van. He seems cowed by the big phone dude presence. Khakis and clipboard vs. guys with tool belts, you know how it goes. He walks out to the poles, and then comes back gives me his supervisor’s phone number, and then leaves. Sigh. Then the phone guys leave–again giving me their supervisor’s number. Later on in the afternoon a cable supervisor truck shows up. I have a nice convo with him. He tells me that the electric company is impossible to deal with. That he wishes me good luck with the project. That I might need a land use attorney and should look into right of ways and easements. HUH??!! Say what??! He gives me his number and leaves. Sheesh I’ve never received so many manly phone numbers in my whole life!

As it happens the township office is conveniently located just down the road a bit. So after a big work annoyance pops up, I decide to up the ante and check out the situation. I talk to some guy in an office called ‘code enforcemnt’. That sounds promising methinks. But alas, no. No record of an easement on our map, but maybe there’s something in a deed that’s held downtown. The secretary in the office chimes in and says that she found an easement on her property that hadn’t been listed in her deed. Hmm. Ok. Any other options here? Dude says well the electric company I’ve had some dealings with them. Not easy. Let me find a number of a guy i’ve worked with. He says he’ll phone and gives me his number!

He did call later and said that he’d emailed the guy at the electric company and to let him know how it works out.

Flash forward to today. Loud knocking at the door. The cat freaks out. I freak out. I go downstairs. It’s 900 am. I was expecting a call but not a visit. But there you go. I answer the door. Dude: Hi I hear you have a complaint? Sheesh, he is brutal! Mesays, well I have a service request. We go out. The guy is a real yinzer. But unlike most yinzers I know, he’s not very personable! Let me tell you how it’s done. Yack yack, evade evade. I see the big fabled measuring stick. He walks out with it, and then doesn’t use it. Yep that’s low he says. But those guys need to file a request and you know they need to raise it themselves. He has a big map. He calls a guy. The pole is not listed on his map. Natch. We go to the other pole. They chit chat. We go back to the truck. He calls phone supervisor. Yack yack. Yinz got room, yinz need to raise it. Yinz got a big belly there in the middle (this is line jargon for a sagging line). What I hear is that he’s telling the phone man to raise his lines!! ARGH! This is going to be tough. Annoying man patronizes me. But I manage to get the phone guys number. I can’t give it out he says, but you spell his name xxx-xxxxx. Tee hee. He’s a funny gruff dude. He says wait a few days. We’ll take care of it. You may not like how it’s taken care of, but we’ll fix it. Ominous.

And here I thought it was a done deal. Little power dude said 5 ft extensions on the poles, no problem. He even marked the poles with that yellow tape! Sigh. This supervisor dude (to give you an idea of his pleasant demeanor, when I said ok what’s your title, he says I’m the janitor. I clean the ladies room–Har Har you’re funny dude!) says who was that guy that came, I told him his name, and he said nah I don’t know who that is, you need something in writing. You need a supervisor. Yack yack. Sigh. He also mentioned that he’d had “dealings” with the guy at the township office. We’ll see how much of a mistake it was to get him involved.

Sorry to bore you all with the saga of the power lines, but it’s been an eye-opening process so far–and a busy week on our little laneway in PA. If anyone out there has advice or the name of a good land use attorney let me know!

The noon UPDATE: You just never know when you’re going to look out the window and see one of those %^$%# white trucks. And here he was–my main man from comcast. I missed him. Kind of reminds me of my uncle d. Nice guy. I wished I’d brought out my camera, because lo and behold–the fabled measuring stick was here, and it was in action! Woo! Turns out our clearance is 7’10”. He reached up and grabbed the line to demonstrate how low it is. Phone guys–he touched your line! Anyhow the pole is a yellow plastic thing that telescopes up with a hook on the top. It was a case of everyday math in action. He was calculating this height minus that one, up to there, hmm. what is the calculation i need for the midpoint, i forget. Anyhow he came up with a final point of 13’2″ for clearance. 14″2′ for him and 13’2″ for the phone. Not ideal, he says 15 foot clearance is what they go for over driveways and yards. But that’s all he can get unless the power company chips in. He’s going to call the phone guy to get the scoop on what he heard from the power guy this morning. Phone guy gave me the scoop on power line guy and the shake down at the power company and why they’re so difficult to work with. Stay tuned dear readers. I know it’s a real nail biter!

Woo another UPDATE: Doorbell rang, and the cable dude wanted to give me the update. He’d talked to the phone dude and they’ve agreed to come up and lift the lines–without involving the power co. Sigh. But anyhow he said that they’d be out next Thurs and would raise their lines by either climbing up the pole with spikes (cool!) or by driving their bucket truck in there. Eeek. Doode will have to do some tree clearing this weekend! Anyhow there you have it, if it goes as planned in 2.5 weeks we’ll have use of the area. Wait and see dear readers!


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