Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ketchum OKs $500K underground project

City to bury lines on Fifth Street

Express Staff Writer

    The Ketchum City Council on Monday approved the expenditure of about $502,000 to bury approximately five blocks of power lines in the city’s downtown core, including at the intersection of Fifth Street and Main Street.
    The so-called “Fifth Street Underground Project” will bury overhead power lines on Fifth Street about from the intersection of Walnut Avenue to just before the intersection of Washington Avenue. It will also bury lines on Alpine Lane about from the intersection of Fifth Street to just past the intersection of Fourth Street. Public commentary at the meeting and through letters to the city indicated support for the project, which is the latest push in a continuing effort by the city to replace overhead lines throughout the downtown core with more subtle subterranean counterparts.
    “The goal at the end of the day is to have everything under ground, but we have to triage our priorities,” Mayor Randy Hall said at the meeting.
    Hall said the project will remove 12 conventional power poles, bringing the total up to about 100 poles that the city has removed through its undergrounding efforts. A staff report included in the meeting packet states that street lights held by those poles will be replaced with six self-powered solar street lights and one—just to the east of the intersection of Main Street and Fifth Street—that will be connected to the grid, due to shade.
    The city will pay for the project using its Underground Fund, which is supported by a 3 percent franchise fee from Idaho Power Co. Idaho Power will conduct the work. At the meeting, Idaho Power spokeswoman Cyndi Bradshaw said that work on the project could commence in a few weeks. She said that she’s “confident” conduit for the lines could be buried and the streets could be repaved before July 4.
    A staff report on the project states that Idaho Power could then “come back” after Labor Day to pull the wire through the conduit and remove the power poles, completing the project by this fall.

Brennan Rego:

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