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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Norfolk, Va., installing power poles for light rail

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Hundreds of poles that will carry electricity for Norfolk's light rail trains are going up along the 7.4-mile alignment, marking a construction milestone for The Tide, Virginia's first light rail system. A small group of poles were bolted into place last month along a section of track near Norfolk State University, and a larger group of them will be secured in place in the coming weeks.

Known as centenary poles, they are integral to powering The Tide because they hold up the wires that carry electricity to the rail cars. Unlike subway cars that have a "third rail" electrified track, The Tide's power comes from above, meaning it's safely away from everyone who will board the trains.

The poles are part of a contract to install electrical components along the alignment, including grade-crossing signals, crossing gates and seven electrical substations that convert alternating current to the direct current required to run the trains. The poles are made of galvanized steel and were built in Pittsburgh. Those installed at Harbor Park and running to the medical center will be painted black. The system will be energized next year.

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