CHICAGO (CBS) — Without warning a light pole came crashing down on a busy street near Navy Pier during rush hour, and dogs may be partially to blame.
It’s been a recurring problem in Chicago.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Denise Ferrari was preparing dinner in her 16th floor Streeterville apartment when she heard it.
“Had my window open, heard a loud bang,” she said. “Ran to the window, looked out and laying on the street was the lamppost.”
She took a photo of the light pole across two lanes of Grand Avenue east of McClurg. It had toppled in the fierce wind. Workers moved it to the side of the street where the light pole’s rusty base can be seen.
“Now that I think about it, anybody could have been hit,” Ferrari said. “It could have actually hit a car, hit a person. It could have killed someone, absolutely.”
Ferrari said six months ago less than a block away on Grand another light pole came down.
“Same thing,” she said. “We had a windy, cold time during the winter, and down it went right in the road.”
And Thursday on the same street CBS 2 found several light poles with signs of distress.
“That was moving pretty good yesterday as well,” Ferrari said of one of the poles.
CBS 2 showed a photo to IIT professor and metallurgy expert Dr. Sammy Tin.
“There’s a lot of corrosion that has occurred to the base of a lot of the light poles in Chicago,” he said.
India Cooley called police when she found her parked car smashed in 2018 by an old rusty light pole.
For years now CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini has covered the dangers of falling light poles in Chicago finding thousands of complaints including the result of winter weather, salt, age and neglect.
In dog-friendly Streeterville there’s likely another culprit: dogs urinating on the poles.
“Urine is a very caustic solution, so that will accelerate corrosion but also wet weather combined with salt from the winters, that will also accelerate corrosion,” Tin said.
Tin said Chicago’s light poles have to be inspected and maintained at least once a year.
“I just hope another one doesn’t come down and hit anybody, that’s all,” said Ferrari.
CBS 2 reached out to the city to find out how often the light poles are maintained in the area but has not received an answer.