County highway department works to repair damaged traffic signal

Crews removed the damaged traffic signal pole and masthead on westbound Bunker Lake Boulevard at Quinn Street Jan. 22. A malfunctioning hydraulic line on a garbage truck caused its dumpster to lift in the air and strike the signal, according to the initial Anoka County Sheriff’s Office investigation. It could take one to two weeks to get a new signal in. Photo by Eric Hagen

Crews removed the damaged traffic signal pole and masthead on westbound Bunker Lake Boulevard at Quinn Street Jan. 22. A malfunctioning hydraulic line on a garbage truck caused its dumpster to lift in the air and strike the signal, according to the initial Anoka County Sheriff’s Office investigation. It could take one to two weeks to get a new signal in. Photo by Eric Hagen

A traffic signal on Bunker Lake Boulevard in Andover was severely damaged Monday morning, Jan. 20 when it was struck by a garbage truck dumpster with a malfunctioning hydraulic lift.

Anoka County Highway Engineer Doug Fischer said Wednesday morning, Jan. 22 that it would likely take a week or two to get a new traffic signal pole and mast arm in for the westbound side of Bunker Lake Boulevard at Quinn Street.

The intersection, which is by the Andover Station commercial development, will have four-way stop signs until then.

“We thought about a temporary signal, but really that work would take almost as long and would interfere with the installation of the permanent pole,” Fischer said.

One westbound lane needed to be closed because the 50-foot mast arm over the road that holds the traffic signals was “tipped and turned” 90 degrees and the base was damaged so there was a safety concern, Fischer said. The mast arm and pole were removed the morning of Jan. 22.

Fischer said the county highway department has a traffic signal pole and mast arm in stock, but the contractor who will install this new equipment must first thaw the ground in order to pour the concrete footings 11 to 12 feet in the ground to provide a stable base to hold up the 50-foot-long mast arm.

This base has conduit wiring in it to provide power to the traffic signal and the loop detector that knows when vehicles are at the intersection. Although the county does not know whether the concrete base itself cracked, Fishcer said they do not want to chance it.

“When you see that extensive of damage, you can’t risk not knowing if (the concrete base) is fractured or not,” he said.

According to Fischer, it may take up to three days just to thaw the ground in order to install the new concrete base.

Fischer did not have an estimate on how much the repair work could cost, but said it would be “in the tens of thousands of dollars.” An insurance claim could be submitted to the garbage hauler company, pending the outcome of the investigation.

What happened

Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said at 9:53 a.m. Jan. 20 sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene of the accident at the intersection of Bunker Lake Boulevard and Quinn Street.

According to Sommer, deputies found that a garbage truck driver was having mechanical problems with the hydraulic lift during the morning runs and had worked on the problem several times.

While traveling westbound on Bunker Lake Boulevard, the hydraulic line reportedly gave out again. This caused the dumpster to lift in the air and strike the mast arm traffic signal, leaving it inoperable.

A Minnesota State Patrol commercial vehicle inspector is investigating the incident. There were no citations immediately issued.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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