Ocean County is plagued by low-hanging and sagging telecommunication cables that pose a threat to pedestrians, bicyclists and even motorists, said Joseph H. Vicari, Director of the Board of Commissioners.
Vicari yesterday addressed the problem during a 30-minute phone conversation with Bob Brabston, executive director of the state Board of Public Utilities.
“Some of these thick cables are hanging just four feet over the shoulder or the sidewalk,” Vicari said. “Someone, especially a child, could be seriously injured by these lines.”
He then wrote to Governor Phil Murphy requesting him to take more direct and immediate action.
“I am asking you to consider implementing an executive order that would require twice-yearly inspections and repairs, if necessary, of utility poles and lines throughout the state,” Vicari said in the letter.
While the wires are not energized electrical lines, Vicari said they still pose a safety threat.
“These companies need to be held responsible,” Vicari said. “They need to maintain their property just like any other business or homeowner.”
Because the BPU is hamstrung by the cable deregulation laws passed nearly 40 year ago, Vicari said an executive order is needed.
He said such an order could begin with a trial effort in Ocean County.
“Ocean County has more than 618 miles of county roads and most of our infrastructure is above ground,” he said. We would make an ideal location to host a pilot program for this important effort.”
Vicari said he has been trying to combat this problem for more than a decade, and has personally taken photos of sagging lines throughout the county.
In Toms River, drooping and low-hanging cable on Windsor Avenue are close to several schools and the nearby youth sports complex.
“We can’t wait for someone to be hurt,” Vicari said. “We need to act now.”
As the summer draws closer, Vicari said the county’s population will jump from almost 700,000 to more than 1.3 million people, putting more individuals at risk from these cables.
“The power companies, the cable and phone companies – everyone says they are not responsible for the problem,” he said. Someone has to step forwards and solve this. Someone has to act.”