NAPLES — Just as the first of Naples’ unsightly, green traffic signal poles with peeling paint was about to be replaced, crews discovered it didn’t fit.
When work to replace faulty signal mast arms started at the first of 12 intersections Tuesday, the two-piece arms didn’t fit properly together. The crews were working on the signal at the intersection of Fifth Avenue South and Tenth Street when they learned of the problem, Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Debbie Tower said.
The discovery appeared to be another huge setback in a quandary that has gone on since at least 2006, when FDOT filed a lawsuit against Atlas to replace or repair the faulty traffic poles, which began shedding their paint soon after they were installed.
However, crews learned that is was only the first pole they tried to install that did not fit together. The other replacement poles fit fine.
Crews returned Wednesday night to install the traffic pole at Fifth Avenue South and are expected to finish the work for the second mast arm Thursday night, Tower said.
“As long as they are installing I’m happy,” Naples Mayor Bill Barnett said.
City Engineering Manager Gregg Strakaluse said the city of Naples is offering any help it can to speed the process.
“We’re just monitoring it closely, making sure work is progressing,” Strakaluse said.
FDOT crews haven’t been advised when more work will be done.
The agreement calls for all the installation work to be done by April 30, Tower said.
Barnett said he’ll be very happy when it’s finished.
The paint on the poles started pealing because of a flaw in the galvanization process when the poles were coated with a protective metal before being painted. The green finish on the signal mast arms began peeling less than a year after installation, FDOT officials said.
Through arbitration, the department reached an agreement with Atlas in December 2007.
Since then, the timeline for the signals’ replacement has been pushed back repeatedly, until the department amended the settlement in August 2008 and reached a final settlement to set the year-end deadline.
Since work wasn’t finished before the end of the year, FDOT removed Atlas from the state’s qualified bidder list in earlier January. But that has been lifted with some new criteria in the agreement and Atlas is once again on the state’s qualified bidder list, FDOT officials said.