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Council Approves Route 1 Power Undergrounding Study

Power lines on Route 1

Power lines on Route 1

In last night’s meeting, the City Council decided to send a Letter of Agreement (LOA) with the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) pertaining to accomplishing and funding a feasibility study for the undergrounding of utilities in conjunction with the design of improvements for US Route 1 from College Avenue to MD 193.

The SHA is in the design phase of the Route 1 reconstruction project and has informed the City that it is not their policy to relocate utilities underground therefore the cost of a feasibility study, the engineering associated with utility redesign and the construction involved with relocating the utilities underground would be the responsibility of the city.

The LOA includes the estimated cost of consultant services to perform the feasibility study in the amount of $130,012.00 as well as $9,933.00 for SHA overhead for management of the study. The city will also be responsible for all costs that exceed this estimate.

The University of Maryland has provided a letter supporting the city’s efforts to pursue the undergrounding of utilities and agreeing to share the costs associated with the feasibility study equally.

The City and the university have long advocated that the overhead utilities be placed underground rather than relocated to another above ground location as part of the Route 1 improvement project.

I did raise some concerns about the open-ended nature of the study agreement. The City will mostly likely have no choice but to pay extra costs if a cost overrun happens in the study phase.  The staff has seen the detailed task plan of the study proposal and feels comfortable that there will not be a cost overrun.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

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