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PSEG Long Island Sued Over Giant, Steel Utility Poles Following Deadly Crash

BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – PSEG Long Island is facing several lawsuits over the giant steel utility poles it installed in a rural area of eastern Long Island.

The outrage has grown since a Suffolk County man was killed crashing into one of them.

The December 11th crash took the life of 47-year-old Matthew Hillebrand. Some people blame the giant steel poles.

"I think they're an eyesore. And after that last accident happened, they cause more problems through accidents – people getting killed now. I mean, that road's a very dangerous road anyway," one woman said.

Residents point to the utility poles that are twice as large around as the wooden poles they replaced, arguing the increased size increases the dangers.

Town of Brookhaven officials agree.

"Most poles break away. Ninety-foot poles anchored in concrete don't," Supervisor Ed Romaine said.

He says, along with Southampton, he's suing PSEG Long Island to demand the poles be removed and the power lines buried. He's sending a letter demanding an investigation into how the utility was allowed to install nearly 200 poles along a rural roadway when poles that large are usually placed in wooded areas away from roads.

"They didn't follow the environmental review process. I'm surprised they didn't have a public hearing or a public meeting before they did this," said Romaine. "What type of engineering studies were done, since many of these 90-foot steel poles site right on the roadway?"

Facing lawsuits, PSEG Long Island would only issue a statement saying that on average, drivers strike 1,000 poles a year, resulting in a dozen serious accidents.

Debris from the deadly crash serves as a reminder a potential danger remains.

One utility trustee is asking that PSEG Long Island consider placing barriers around the poles to lessen the severity of vehicle impacts.

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