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Lessons learned from El Paso interstate shutdown


POSTED: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 10:47pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 2:09pm

It was a Tuesday night that many would like to forget, or at least never experience again.

A semi-truck smashed into a power pole on the Gateway near Piedras spewing power lines across the freeway. Drivers hit the brakes and didn't move for hours.

Meanwhile, hundreds of nearby businesses, like Estine's Eastside Barbershop, lost power.

"You lose some business. I tell them I can't cut your hair because I don't have no electricity," explained Davis.

On Tuesday, city council and El Paso Electric reviewed their responses to the accident, and discussed ways to improve in the future.

"Looking back we think we did an excellent job of handling this situation," said Marybeth Stevens with El Paso Electric.

El Paso Electric is replacing the wooden pole that was hit with a sturdier, steel one. It's just one of several poles that are slowly being replaced along busy highway corridors like I-10, but the steel poles aren't cheap. It'll cost close to $10,000 compared to $2,500 for a wooden pole, which is why EPE says it makes decisions like this one on a case by case basis.

"We want to reduce our risk exposure when it comes to incidents like one last week," said Cortney Niland, an El Paso city council representative.

As far as the traffic back-up, the city is encouraging residents to register for reverse 911 so that they can call or text you the moment the interstate is closed. That didn't happen this time, but it's a change the city plans to make in light of what happened last week.

As for Estine Davis, she says the sturdier poles are worth the cost, a way to make sure businesses like hers aren't the ones who end up on the losing end of accidents like the one last week.

"All you can do is say this was one of the bad days for me and look at it that way, and hope for the future," said Davis.

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