The 2.5% limit is for Group I loading (Dead loads or Transverse loads from
cables). AASHTO does not consider deflection critical for temporary loading
such as wind. In the commentary Section 1.9.1(B), it states "For high-level
lighting (pole type) designs, deflections of 10 percent to 15 percent of the
pole height under design loads do not appear to be unreasonable."