Driving through Holmdel, not all of it but large swaths of it, I see utility poles heavily burdened with multiple cables used for power and communications transmissions.
I see these poles as the source of several problems. They represent a safety concern as evidenced by the high school sports jerseys nailed to several poles. When a teen loses control on a wet, snowy or icy road, they can meet a utility pole as opposed to a curb, guard rail, berm or simply a yard or field.
I see the poles as a vulnerability. We lose power frequently. During Irene we did not lose power. However, Monday morning at 10 AM, it was crystal clear and I was clearing a fallen branch on my driveway. I heard a truck backing up in the distance, a boom, and the power was out...until 4:45 PM the following Friday. Somehow in the cleanup we lost power to the cleanup effort because the pole was in the way. We lose power when someone slips on wet leaves and hits a pole. We lose power when a garage collection truck snags low hanging wires. We lose power in the snow. We lose power in the rain and wind storms. We lose power again and again because the poles and/or lines get hit or otherwise disturbed by weather, a squirrel, or a vehicular accident.
I have heard that the utilities have stated that the cost-benefit does not bear out a burying of the lines. According to whom? Their pro forma does not tip in favor of burying the lines because they have externalized our lack of productivity during outages. If I billed JCPL for my two weeks of lost productivity at my rate, I am sure we could tip the scales in favor of burying the service to my house. Not to mention the lost food, gas spent driving all over New Jersey looking for a pace that has power so I can keep the milk for my son cold, nights in hotels, meals out and on and on and on...
Tree cutting: Has anyone NOT noticed the tree butchering in Holmdel post-Irene? The contracted tree services for the utilities went ape on our trees. It is disgraceful. Trees are part of the character of Holmdel, directly improve our property values, benefit the environment by providing is shade, protection from wind, habitat for birds, consuming CO2, producing O2, combatting noise pollution, and enhancing the beauty of our yards and roads. Utility poles do not.
I hear that it would cost $1,000,000 or millions of dollars a mile to bury the lines. I would like to see the books opened and bids presented to bury the lines. Transparancy is needed. If it cost $1,000,000/mile would any development have underground power?
Do you know what would work? Bury the lines under the sidewalks...sidewalks that are removable. You dig a trench, lay conduit (pipe for running cables), pull the cables, bury the conduit in crushed stone and soil and place the sidewalk on top. When you need to access the conduit, you simply move the section of sidewalk of to the side in the public right-of-way, do your work, and then put everything back. No cutting the streets, no bumps, no pavings. The net results are a town without ugly, dangerous utility poles and cables... a utility system that is safe...public right-of-ways free of road shoulder hazards...trees free to grow and thrive, enhancing our town.