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ASCE to Create Sports Lighting Support Pole Standard

Paul Steinbach

Three years ago this month, when AB first reported on a rash of sports lighting support pole failures, one source admitted that the industry had long seen little regulation or consistent design guidance. That appears to be changing.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, the nation's oldest engineering society, has announced it is working to create a national consensus standard for the proper specification, design and system support of these structures. "In the United States, current practices related to the specification, fatigue design, installation and ongoing maintenance of athletic field or other area lighting structures are very inconsistent," says Brian Reese of ReliaPole Inspection Services Co., chair of the ASCE Athletic Field Lighting Structures Standard Committee, which was created last fall. "When we started looking at these failures, we surmised that fatigue resulting from wind-induced vibration, as well as a lack of inspection and maintenance programs, are believed to have played critical roles in these failures."

In the past, some design professionals have used the International Building Code as a design guide, but that code is not particularly adaptive to lighting support structures, Reese adds in an ASCE press release. He says other designs rely on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Standard Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires and Traffic Signals. Still others rely on commercial grade specifications developed by the individual lighting system suppliers.

Until a formal standard takes shape, the committee recommends the following interim measures:

1) Design professionals should use the AASHTO Standard Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaires and Traffic Signals, fifth edition, with 2010 and 2011 interim revisions.

2) Designs should be made for a minimum life of 50 years and Fatigue Category I as it applies to the AASHTO Standard Specifications.

3) Owners should be encouraged to develop routine scheduled inspection and maintenance programs and contact qualified inspection professionals if cracks or corrosion are observed.

The committee is actively seeking new members, particularly those individuals directly affected by its activities. For information, contact Reese (breese@polesafety.com) or the ASCE's Lee Kusek (lkusek@asce.org).

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