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Enviromart gets 'Poleaxed' on Wellington Motorway

Enviromart gets 'Poleaxed' on Wellington's Motorways

Over the last year Wellingtons Motorway lighting poles have been disappearing. Transit has funded the replacement of the 350 aging spun concrete poles with new steel poles. "The concrete poles had been up since the motorways were constructed. The new steel poles are a lighter, 'shear base' poles and are safer if they are struck by a motorist" says Tim Demsey of Hutt Electrical, the project contractor. "The new poles are also more resilient in a major earthquake."

Motorists will have noticed the removal of old poles and erection of new poles as the project progressed through out the year. "It has been an interesting project. We were restricted to working outside rush hour between 9am and 3pm, in daylight when the lights were off", says Tim Demsey. "Working on 'off-ramps' required closing the off ramps and this could only be done at the weekends."

The new poles have better lighting technology, using a more efficient 250w sodium lamp that outputs 96 lumens per watt. This compares with 40 lumens per watt for a domestic incandescent lamp. The new poles are also easily recycled. Exactly what to do with 350 used spun concrete poles that each weigh a tonne has created a problem as the old poles piled up in Hutt Electrical's yard.

"This was a great opportunity for Enviromart, the Wellington regions waste exchange" says Enviromart Co-ordinator Richard Moore. "It is not every exchange where we can divert such a large tonnage from going into the landfill". Enviromart is a free materials exchange program, where businesses can register waste products they wish to dispose of. "Enviromart is a web based exchange and exchanges like this require some lateral thinking" says Richard Moore. "Transporting poles that each weigh a tonne was obviously a problem and so after talking to a number of logging companies I found not only transport , but a company that had a use for the old poles."

Wairarapa firm, Fearon Logging, was looking for low cost retaining walls to use in their Wairarapa firewood yard as they turn log ends into firewood for the Wellington Region. "Enviromart approached us with these poles, and initially we were interested in a lighting pole in our yard" says Kevin Fearon. "Then we thought that as reinforced concrete they could be constructed into retaining walls. We brought a truckload of 25 poles and built the first wall as a test earlier in the year and now this week we are bringing another 50 poles in two truckloads to finish the job."

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