Ann Arbor Phone Pole Massacre

DTE crew lops off utility poles behind Downtown Home & Garden
A DTE worker takes a chain saw to one of the utility poles in the alley behind Downtown Home Garden.

A DTE worker takes a chainsaw to one of the utility poles in the alley behind Downtown Home & Garden. Despite some concerns about the cars below, no dramatic pole-dropping incident occurred.

When The Chronicle heard the rare buzz of a chainsaw in downtown Ann Arbor late Friday morning, we followed that sound to its source: A DTE Energy crew chopping off the tops of three wooden utility poles in the alley behind Downtown Home & Garden.

It took three trucks to do the work, navigating a narrow alley, phone and cable lines, and cars parked near the poles. One truck had a hydraulic arm with a hook dangling down to affix to the pole. A second truck had a cherry-picker that hoisted one of the workers aloft with his chainsaw.

Once in position, the DTE worker took less than a minute to cut through the pole, sawdust spraying – one push after that, and the top half started to tip over before being yanked up by the hydraulic arm. An operator controlling the arm from the truck below then maneuvered it to drop the pole into the bed of a third truck.

One of the crew members told The Chronicle they’d return later to finish taking down the poles, but first the phone and cable companies would need to come by to remove wiring. The DTE workers didn’t know what required the removal, but it’s likely related to the city-owned site at the southeast corner of First & Washington. The City Apartments project, which includes a public parking component, is in the works there.


The top half of a utility pole is being lowered onto a truck below.

Pole in truck

The top half of a wooden utility pole is lowered into the DTE truckbed. The truck was parked in the alley behind Downtown Home & Garden, facing Liberty.

two trucks

Looking east from the lot at First & Washington, two DTE Energy trucks next to two decapitated utility poles.


  1. February 21, 2009 at 6:40 am | permalink

    Maybe they were simply making them Human Scale, in keeping with some residents’ fears of the future?

  2. By Mary Morgan
    February 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm | permalink

    Better “human scale” than “fairy door scale”…