UPDATE: Cellular equipment work planned on utility poles in West Seattle neighborhoods

4:06 PM THURSDAY: Just in from the city:

Seattle City Light will be supporting enhanced cellular and data services in various Seattle neighborhoods by upgrading electronic equipment on 49 existing network sites on utility poles. …

Highlights from the flier:

· The project is an expansion of existing communications networks and the equipment modifications will increase public safety and enhanced-911 capabilities. The work will also improve wireless services to areas, allowing for enhanced connectivity and faster 4G service. See the maps on the fliers for approximate construction work areas.

· Construction will begin during the week of July 13, 2015 and will last approximately seven weeks. Daily work hours are planned from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

· During this project, City Light crews will also have the opportunity to upgrade its infrastructure and replace poles that are in poor condition.

· There are no maintenance power outages planned.

· Some traffic and parking impacts are expected in the immediate work areas. Crews will be careful to try and maintain access to driveways.

From separate notification flyers you can see in this 20-page PDF – interspersed with other parts of the city (we’ll try to separate out the West Seattle flyers later if we get time) – here are the three groups of areas where City Light says crews will be working in West Seattle:

 16th Ave SW near SW Brandon St
 16th Ave SW near SW Morgan St
 SW Holden St near 12th Ave SW
 9th Ave SW near SW Cloverdale St
 8th Ave SW between SW Barton St and SW Cambridge St
 The intersection of 4th & 6th Ave S at Myers Way S

 Fauntleroy Pl SW near SW Cloverdale St
 SW Barton St near SW Henderson St
 45th Ave SW near Kilbourne Ct SW
 Marine View Dr SW near SW 101st St
 Marine View Dr SW near SW 104th St

 55th Ave SW near SW Andover St
 48th Ave SW near SW Genesee St
 SW Snoqualmie St near 57th Ave SW
 SW Edmunds St near 48th Ave SW
 SW Hudson St near SW Jacobsen Rd
 46th Ave SW near SW Findlay St
 Atlas Place SW near Beach Dr SW

We’ve sent some followup questions to City Light and will add any additional information we get.

ADDED FRIDAY: We asked City Light a few followup questions. SCL’s Scott Thomsen replied, “These 49 locations have existing cellular antennas on them. The project will replace those existing antennas, which are about 10 years old, with new, upgraded equipment. In most instances, this will not add any height to the pole. A few that are located on streetlights will add 4 feet of height. In each of those cases, the provider must get a conditional use permit from the Department of Planning and Development. The antennas on utility poles are being mounted on the sides of the poles. The old antennas stick out about a foot from the pole. The new ones stick out about 4 inches.”

11 Replies to "UPDATE: Cellular equipment work planned on utility poles in West Seattle neighborhoods"

  • Ron Swanson July 9, 2015 (5:08 pm)

    I believe these are the old obsolete Clearwire WiMax cell sites. Crown Castle, who holds those sites, provides services to many of the big wireless carriers, so we can hope we’ll be able to pull LTE off them when they finish this project. Lot of dead spots in West Seattle.

  • Joe Szilagyi July 9, 2015 (5:11 pm)

    The city has it’s own, public 4G network…? Or are they doing upgrades for private vendors? This is a bit confusing.

  • Sephir Hamilton July 9, 2015 (7:31 pm)

    @Joe: City Light is doing upgrades for private vendors (and will be reimbursed for costs)

  • Ron Swanson July 9, 2015 (8:04 pm)


    The city doesn’t have its own public 4G network, they generally lease bandwidth from private industry except for two way radios. The vendor doing the work here is crown castle, who provides shared wireless infrastructure: towers that can serve more than one carriers customers. So I think basically it’s private industry wanting to replace obsolete cell sites and the city taking advantage of the opportunity to replace the actual pole at the same time.

  • Jill Boone July 9, 2015 (8:58 pm)

    Will there be any impact to view (i.e. adding more lines or equipment to the poles? And is there any way that they could take down any nonfunctional wires while they are at it? There are lots of comcast cable lines up that are not being used as many people have switched to fiberoptics where it is available (and it works wonderfully). Getting rid of unnecessary wires would just make the whole area look better and enhance any views.

  • jissy July 9, 2015 (8:59 pm)

    We had some new poles put up and all services transferred from an old one along with some a new box and antennas down on Beach Drive a couple weeks ago. I went over and asked the guys putting it up what it was (b/c the new street light happens to shine directly in my bedroom) and they said it was for Verizon and there were several being done around West Seattle.

  • Azimuth July 9, 2015 (10:01 pm)

    Agreed Jill. The fewer the wires the better. I’d like to see more lines buried in the future. Yeah it costs more but it truly makes things look better.

  • ChefJoe July 9, 2015 (10:17 pm)

    Jill, I don’t think there are that many unused lines, but I would expect the copper phone lines to be far more dated and expendable if you wanted to pluck something out.

  • Ron Swanson July 9, 2015 (10:45 pm)

    I’m just glad these will presumably be shared between carriers. Verizon has been adding small cells all over West Seattle, which do jack for 75% of people including me.

    The copper will eventually go from the poles, but the fiber that replaces it is more unsightly if anything because you can’t do tight turns with the cable.

    That said, I’ll bet the folks up above alki with the aesthetically pleasing underground wiring won’t be getting gigabit anytime soon. Rewiring that is a pain in the butt compared with overhead stuff.

  • Genesee July 10, 2015 (1:11 pm)

    There’s more and more stuff on the poles. A few years back, City Light came through and put a big ugly box with some wires sticking out of it on the pole in the alley behind my house. I asked the guy what it was, and he said it was a piece of PSE equipment, an antenna for the gas meters, which are apparently “smart” (although mine doesn’t look all that bright, lol). They read your gas consumption and can tell if you’re cheating on your bill.

Sorry, comment time is over.