FORT SMITH (KFSM) – Fort Smith administrators say a man driving a pickup drunkenly drove into and knocked over a signal pole at Phoenix Avenue and 74th Street overnight, forcing officials to put up stop signs at the busy intersection.
The collision damaged the pole enough that a new pole must be put in its place, although city officials must wait until a replacement is shipped to them. Police said that could take up to six to eight weeks.
“We are working as quickly as we can to find the parts we need and re-build the signal at the intersection,” said street department director Greg Riley in a statement. “It’s fairly common for our traffic control crews to repair or replace equipment after a traffic accident, but it’s highly unusual for a pole to be wiped out.”
Riley said it is unknown how long it will take to get a new traffic light pole installed. The city owns spare signal poles for several of its intersections, but replacing the pole at the intersection of Phoenix and 74th “is proving to be a challenge,” Riley said.
He said city workers will likely know by Friday afternoon how long it will take to replace the signal pole.
In the meantime, four stop signs have been placed at the intersection, and police are urging motorists to drive slowly and use extra caution while driving through the intersection.
A report released by the Fort Smith Police Department states Eric Elser, 29, was driving westbound on Phoenix Avenue around midnight and lost control of his pickup, striking the base of the traffic pole, located on the northwest corner of the intersection. Elser was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving, police said.