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Council to Discuss Undergrounding of Utility Lines on Route 1

Power lines on Route 1

Power lines on Route 1

In August last year, the City signed an agreement with the State Highway Administration (SHA) for the funding of a feasibility study for the undergrounding of utilities in conjunction with the design and construction of the first phase of improvements for the US Route 1 corridor. The SHA contracted with KCI Technologies Inc., to prepare the study, which has been completed.

The consultant will present the findings of the study at tomorrow’s worksession.

The limits of the proposed utility work are generally from Lakeland Road to Greenbelt Road and include 30 utility poles. There are 11 registered utility companies in the project area but the primary companies are PEPCO, Verizon and Comcast.

The consultant notified the utility companies of the study and obtained direct utility estimates from PEPCO and Verizon. The conceptual design for the underground system proposes installation along the centerline or median area of the roadway and utilization of an Advanced Utility Breakout Contract (AUBC).

This would be a separate contract in advance of the roadway construction contract. This approach has the potential of some cost savings to SHA but could take up to two years to complete. At this time, SHA has not begun to design for the aerial relocation of the utilities but has advised that this would commence on or about April 1, 2014 if a decision to underground has not been made.

The consultant’s field observations indicated potential challenges for the aerial relocation where new development has already occurred due to a potential lack of required clearance space. The total estimated cost for the design, construction and administration of the AUBC contract is $17,405,000.

SHA would subtract the aerial relocation cost that they would have incurred from this amount for a total cost to the city of $14,080,000. A meeting was held on January 28, 2014 with stakeholders from the city, county, state and CPCUP to begin to explore options for funding this cost.

The first option of funding would utilize general obligation bonds sold separately by the city ($1 0,000,000) and county ($4,000,000) for this undergrounding project only.

The second option establishes a tax increment financing district along most of the Route 1 corridor, which would support this project as well as other revitalization projects and goals including possible undergrounding for the second phase of Route 1 improvements.

The SHA has stated that a decision by the city as to whether or not to pay for the undergrounding of utilities needs to be made by April1, 2014.

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