The post-oaks look of Auburn University’s side of Toomer’s Corner has yet to be unveiled, but the design for the City of Auburn’s temporary solution to continuing the Toomer’s Corner rolling tradition has been finalized. And it’s pretty simple.
“Where we’ve settled is a series of three poles that will be concrete poles not unlike the size of a telephone pole or the size of a light pole on the end of the road,” says Kevin Cowper, Auburn’s Assistant City Manager.
One pole will be placed near the white rock in the College Street median between Compass Bank and the ghost of the Toomer’s Oaks. One pole will be placed in the landscaped area in front of the entrance to Toomer’s Drugs. Another will go up in front of the Bank Vault.
“It will form a triangle and we will run cable between those three poles,” Cowper says. “It will be two cable wires probably three or four inches a part.”
Cowper says the wires will be approximately the same height as the traffic lights at the corner. “They’ll be low enough so you can throw the toilet paper and let it catch and drape over the wires.”
A decision has yet to be reached regarding the look of the poles in terms of color or design.
“We have talked to the manufacturer to see if the poles could be painted and they said they could do that if wanted to paint them an orange or blue,” Cowper says. “Or we could just go with something that will try to blend in with the background.”
Cowper says the city went with this particular pole plan due to its simplicity—”they can drill holes straight down and then put in the poles, there’s no foundation needed”—and low cost.
“We looked at some other designs—a structure that could possibly set one pole on each corner with some kind of structure that could be raised or lowered after each game,” Cowper says. “We had looked at possibly purchasing entirely new traffic signals in the style of the black, decorative light poles around town and attaching wires to those.”
Last fall, the city planned to replace the four existing light poles with decorative poles that could handle the tension of wires—a structural analysis conducted in 2011 indicated the current poles wouldn’t have been up to the task—that would have been installed between reinforced traffic signal mast arms.
“The problem was is that the area is in a state of transition right now,” Cowper says. “The decision we’ve made is less intrusive and inexpensive way to carry on the rolling tradition. Some of the other options would be quite expensive and we knew we’d have to undo them during further redevelopments.”
Cowper says the pole system will cost the city less than $15,000. And they’ll get their money’s worth. Though the university’s current timeline has its side of Toomer’s 2.0 complete by the 2014 football season—the city will then begin redeveloping the remaining three sides of the corner—Cowper says the wiring could remain in place for a few years.
“The poles may be there for at least a couple of football seasons. It’s my understanding that once they get the transplanted trees there, they don’t want people to roll them for maybe three years. So we may be looking at two or three football seasons.”