Ocean County, NJ official says cables hang too low, pose threat
⚡ Some sagging wires are so low you can touch them, an official says
⚡ Gov. Murphy is being asked to take action now
⚡ Poles and wires can be owned by any number of utility companies
You can likely spot the issue in countless communities across the Garden State, but one county official says he's had enough.
The claim is that roads in Ocean County are plagued by sagging cables that hang from overhead utility poles, resulting in an unnecessary distraction and safety hazard.
The inconvenience has been on the radar of Commissioner Director Joseph Vicari for years. And after several attempts to get solid answers from agencies and utility providers, Vicari has sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy's office, seeking permanent accountability for utility cables.
"We want to make sure all the lines are safe for motorists, people walking, children playing," Vicari told New Jersey 101.5. "If someone's riding a bike, you can actually get hit by (the wires)."
The wires aren't energized — for safety reasons, electrical lines run at the top of the poles, and telecommunication cables run beneath. But Vicari says the sagging wires still pose a safety threat.
Executive order to inspect utility lines
In his letter, Vicari asked Murphy to create an executive order that would require twice-yearly inspections and repairs, if necessary, of utility poles and lines throughout the state — or at least on county and state roads.
"Such an order would send a strong message to the utilities and telecommunications firms that they need to take responsibility for this problem," Vicari's letter says. "They need to maintain their property the same way any other business or homeowner is required to do."
Ocean County alone has 618 miles of county roads.
Utility poles in the county are owned by JCP&L and local telecommunication companies, JCP&L spokesman Christopher Hoenig said. Exact pole numbers would be needed to determine who owns specific poles.
"Telecommunication companies are responsible for the clearances of their cables," Hoenig said. "If a telecom cable needs to be raised to meet clearance requirements from the ground, it must continue to meet clearance requirements from the electrical lines that run above it."
And if clearance on both ends is impossible, he said, there are processes that can be enacted to replace a utility pole with a taller one.
When reached for comment, both the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and Verizon noted that issues recently brought to their attention out of Ocean County were promptly addressed.
"We're constantly working in and with our communities to regularly inspect our network throughout New Jersey and beyond," a Verizon spokesperson said.
According to BPU, if someone notices an issue with cables in their town, they should immediately report it to their electric utility and their cable/internet provider.
The Governor's Office did not offer comment to New Jersey 101.5 regarding Commissioner Vicari's request for an executive order.