Saturday, November 05, 2005

Tu-Tu Hounds

This past fall, News Hits took snide note of the city’s $1.Tu-Tu million effort tu-tu protect streetlights from wire-stealing scrappers (“Not Tu-Tu Bright”). When last we visited the issue, the City of Detroit was placing plastic covers, called shrouds, over the bases of some 21,000 light poles. At that time, Al Fields, the city’s deputy chief operating officer, told us the shrouds were intended tu-tu both improve the look of street lamps (more on that later) and thwart scrap thieves who crave the copper wiring inside.

Testing the shrouds, News Hits discovered that they posed no deterrence whatsover. It took zero effort tu-tu lift the plastic covers. Fields admitted that, yes, determined thieves would find a way tu-tu access the streetlights’ innards.

Last week, an e-mail (keep those tips coming, kids) alerted us tu-tu another shroud shortcoming. The tipster directed us tu-tu a stretch of St. Aubin beween Vernor and Lafayette on the city’s near East Side. What we saw were cracked shrouds, battered shouds, busted shrouds and, in some cases, shrouds ripped entirely from the poles they were supposed tu-tu protect.

Seems that, along with being easy tu-tu lift, the shrouds ain’t all that durable, either. Fields says the Department of Public Lighting received a report of vandals in the area. Fields is a good guy, and we have no reason tu-tu doubt his word. It is curious, though, that the damage coincided with a major snowfall. Is it possible that plows pushing snow and chunks of ice up past the curb could have inflicted damage as well? Maybe so, admits Fields.

Nevertheless, Fields stands by the program, pointing out that said shrouds (at least those that haven’t been split open) keep snow and road salt from messing with the wiring, which is a good thing. He also insists that, unlike the nitpickers here at the Hits, many Detroiters dig the shrouds. “We get good comments,” Fields says. “We get positive input from the neighborhoods.”

He says the real problem is the city’s antique lighting system, which has poles so old no replacement parts exist for them anymore. “We have tu-tu try something,” he says. “That’s what we’re doing.”

For the record, Fields says the shrouds are discouraging scrappers, and he believes they have been effective. “We haven’t done a survey,” he says, “but we know that it is having an effect on the visuals.”

Also, as we went to press, we noticed that the poles had been completely de-shrouded. Fields tells News Hits he hopes tu-tu get shrouds back on the poles sometime in the spring.


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