Be careful driving in rural Quebec

Drivers in the rural outskirts of Sherbrooke, Quebec, should be on full alert if they wind up on Highway 251. In addition to the dangers that they might expect to encounter - wildlife and distracted drivers - they also might run into a utility pole that sprouts out of the right hand lane like a beanstalk reaching for the heavens.

The utility pole actually appeared a few months ago, local reports say, but it was obscured by a construction project that wasn't complete until last week - just in time for late fall snow in Quebec might make roads into a veritable ice skating rink.

The pole's appearance is being blamed on poor communication between Transport Quebec, the local highway authority, and Hydro Quebec, the local power utility. According to media in Quebec, the highway was realigned so that drivers would avoid a dangerous curb, but Hydro Quebec was not informed of the need to move its cables until about three weeks ago.

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As a result, Transport Quebec simply black-topped the area around the offending pole and declared the project complete.

The power utility firm is said to be on hand now with telephone provider Bell Canada working to dismantle the mid-road pole and install a new one away from the road surface. The project should be complete by the end of November, but that hardly makes up for the shock it has undoubtedly caused motorists. For now, a provincial minister says that "adequate signage" will be installed to help warn drivers that something they might not expect is jutting out of the road surface ahead.

As of yesterday, no accidents have been reported at the site on the 24 mile stretch of road.