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Council Mulls Options to Bury Power Lines on Route 1

On last Tuesday’s worksession, the Council discussed options of under grounding utilities on the portion of Route 1 in mid-town College Park.

The Council discussed if it should send a letter of commitment to the State Highway Administration (SHA) by April 1. The SHA wants to know if it will continue its current Route 1 rebuilding work or incorporate the utility under-grounding as part of the rebuilding project.

SHA is saying  if the city requires more time to make a decision, it may cause delays to the project.

Several Council members expressed concerns about the cost of the project. Other than the $4 million that the County is willing to pay, the rest of the project’s cost (about  $14.6 million ) will most likely to be spent by the City.

In the end, the Council decided to take a go-slow approach. It will explore other options, such as a discussion with Pepco, who might work as a partner in undergrounding, as it has done in other jurisdiction.

Earlier, on March 5 the City Manager, City Attorney, Finance Director and Planning Director met with SHA Project Manager and others to discuss various coordination issues regarding the project. Meeting minutes are not yet available but some key points addressed include:

• If the city decides affirmatively to fund undergrounding, the SHA would develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the city. Ideally this would be developed prior to any work under the Advanced Utility Breakout Contract (AUBC). It was stated, however, that this can be a very lengthy process and other arrangements may be needed so as not to delay the AUBC.
• SHA will require a surety from the city. Highway user revenues may be used for this.
• If the AUBC bids exceed the current estimate or available funds, the city could pay for the additional cost or elect not to proceed with the undergrounding and pay for the costs incurred by SHA.
• Any cost overruns during construction would be paid by the city.
• The cost estimate for undergrounding provided by the consultant has been revised to reflect additional overhead required by SHA (see attached). The cost has increased from $14,080,000 to $14,719,584 (+ $639,584).

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