.

Bury the Lines

Utility Poles and Lines are safety hazards

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Holmdel Repub November 17, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Bob, I agree with your sentiment and admire your passion, although me thinks you're probably under estimating the effort. Also, perhaps have someone edit these before you hit submit considering you're planning a series of suggestions. It reads a tad clunky (misspellings, grammar, etc).
Robert Way November 18, 2012 at 02:29 AM
While I agree with the general premise, I want to second the comment above regarding a possible underestimate of the effort. The biggest thing is the fact that there would likely have to be the coordination of three different utility companies to bury everything at the same time (JCP&L, Comcast, and Verizon). Not to mention all the existing underground utilities that would have to be worked around as I am sure it is much easier to do everything underground from scratch like in a new development than try to retrofit it into existing infrastructure layouts. Could it be done, sure, but the consumer would more than likely be paying the bill in large rate increases. It just seems like it is easy for the "just bury it" statement to be made without fully understanding what goes into it. Despite this, it would be nice for the utility companies to be more transparent in regard to what the level of effort would be and what the impact would be to consumer rates.
Michael Nikolis November 18, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Just for fun, where are the 'removable sidewalks' in town? What about the many neighborhoods that don't have sidewalks..? Who's going to pay for all the damage to landscaping when construction crews have to dig up front lawns, driveways and paved walkways to bury the lines into each residence..? More realistically, we should focus on mandating that all gas stations in NJ be required to have backup generators..
Mike Simpson November 18, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Plenty of available studies out there that illustrate the complexity and expense of burying the high voltage transmission lines that distribute the power to the "low voltage" lines that arrive at your house. Something like this would literally take years and millions just to plan - let alone construct. So - reality check - consider installing a "whole house" natural gas stand by generator. Plenty of companies out there now to get pricing from and installation could be done very quickly. In fact I believe there is an article on this very subject in today's APP. Regarding Mike's "mandate" - great idea - see this... http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/rpt/2011-R-0389.htm
Bob Stevens November 19, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Article in Star Ledger pegs the cost at 1 million per mile to place electric lines underground. Ratepayers would pay for that in higher rates.
Bob November 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM
They don't have to bury the lines all at once. If they're ripping up the road for other contruction projects they could do it then. It'll still be expensive but i'm sure maintaining this outdated system we have now isn't cheap either.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »