Most of my career has been spent designing multi-family units, offices, schools, commercial and industrial facilities, retail and high-end residential buildings. In addition to new structures, there have also been the renovations of existing buildings, and in most cases they have been to bringing these buildings up to current code for seismic retrofits. From time to time smaller projects have landed on my desk which have involved the analysis and design of the anchorage for roof top units, fuel tanks and other small pieces of equipment along with the design of metal building foundations.
One day, one of our Civil Engineers in our Kirkland office called and asked if I could design utility poles? I gave it a quick thought and asked myself, “How hard can it be to design a large stick in the ground.” I told them that I could do this and was given the go ahead and the supporting information needed to start the project. I did my research to see what it would take to accomplish this task and like some projects, those requirements began to grow. After purchasing the appropriate design code, we also acquired software to effectively complete the project. The software was called Ocalc Pro.
This became more than a simple stick in the ground project. With the data of the existing lines attached to the poles and their configuration at the top, and the data for the new line that was being added, just the slightest angle in the route caused the pole to be over stressed. New guy supports were essential to get the additional wire to work on the existing poles in certain portions of the route. As I already stated, this was no simple stick in the ground design.
In the end, not all projects are what they seem until you dive into the logistics.