AEP Ohio clears trees to make way for new poles

An Asplundh foreman removes limbs from a maple tree on Colegate Drive in Marietta Monday in preparation for new AEP Ohio poles coming later this summer. Motorists should expect traffic delays on the road through the end of July. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

MARIETTA – Trees are coming down this week along one of Marietta’s thoroughfares.

Colegate Drive from Ohio 60 to Greene Street saw a crew marking and trimming trees Monday–work American Electric Power Ohio says will continue to make way for 23 new poles along the road.

“They will have some traffic control on that road, but it shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary, maybe minor delays,” said Steve Stanley, area manager with AEP.

Those delays caught Bill and Vicki Hurte off guard as they came home from a weekend trip Monday to see the large maple tree in front of their home coming down and one lane of traffic between Goodwill and Glendale Road on Colegate.

“We knew they were doing work in July but didn’t realize they’d be cutting down trees sooner,” said Bill. “That tree I’m always picking up dead branches when I mow. It’s been dying for a while.”

Bill made sure to take photos as the work went on, commenting that he wasn’t sure what Asplundh (AEP’s tree removal contractor) would do with the wood and stumps, but hoping they’d remove them in the coming days.

“But I guess it will save us some money, in the long run, taking down trees can get expensive,” added Vicki. “I’d just like to know what we can plant after they’re done and where. Do we lose a little shade now, sure, but if it makes the electricity more reliable, there’s no point fighting it.”

The electric company is in the midst of significant upgrades for the Southeast Ohio region, replacing all 23 kV lines 138 kV lines, effectively more than doubling the capacity and redundancy in the area and by the end of 2023 adding 70 miles of new lines and 15 new substations across Washington, Noble and Monroe counties for approximately $30 million.

The company attended Marietta City Council’s regular business meeting last Thursday to prepare the elected officials present for the potential fallout, like that seen in April of 2017 when trees along Eighth Street in Marietta came down to make way for taller poles and lines.

Residents at the time felt they were not adequately prepared for the change, one which was on the city’s radar by AEP for more than a year in advance.

Paul Prater, communications and customer experience manager explained to council that the upgrades are a continuous process including the taller poles, on Eighth and coming ones on Colegate.

“You will see double poles for a while though,” he noted to council. “It can take six months to a year for telephone and cable to catch up and move to our new poles.”

Stanley said the pole work will come after tree trimming is concluded on Colegate around mid- to late-July, weather permitting.

“With all this rain we’ve been having that might change, but that’s the current schedule,” he said while working on other upgrades near McConnelsville Monday.

Prater said AEP is working with the Marietta City Tree Commission to replace trees within the city right of way and encouraged private residents to call AEP’s customer service line with questions at 740-962-7005.

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