PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Public Utility District will begin work Monday on its downtown electrical wire project to move wires underground.
Construction will move down Water Street one block at a time. Titan Builders of Sequim, the Public Utility District’s (PUD) contractor, will remove the top wires and take down and replace street lights as well as remove about half the height of each power pole, said Will O’Donnell, PUD communications manager.
The sidewalks on each block will be closed while Titan removes the length of old overhead electrical wire. The wire removal will be done in the morning to try to avoid issues with local businesses, O’Donnell said. Once the wire is removed, restricted sidewalk access may resume, he added.
The top wires are already inactive as the underground infrastructure for Water Street is operating and utilizing on-the-ground transformers that are scattered along Water and Washington streets, O’Donnell said.
PUD officials hope to have the power poles completely removed by this fall. CenturyLink and Wave Broadband use the poles to run their services so they can’t be removed until those wires have been buried as well, O’Donnell said.
CenturyLink and Wave both have agreed to move the lines underground, so it’s a matter of scheduling the work, O’Donnell said.
The street lights are being replaced with LED lights that will appear more decorative and “historic,” O’Donnell said, adding that some will have outlets so as to allow holiday lights decorations.
During the work, the road will have one lane open for traffic to pass through, O’Donnell said.
Initially, the wire undergrounding plan was budgeted to cost the PUD $1 million and be only under Water Street, but that budget has been expanded to between $1.5 million and $1.75 million as the PUD works with the city’s upgrades, O’Donnell said.
Here is the north side of Water Street’s demolition and street light installation by block schedule:
• Van Buren to Harrison streets Monday and Tuesday.
• Harrison to Fillmore streets Jan. 15-16.
• Fillmore to Polk streets Wednesday and Thursday.
• Polk to Tyler streets Jan. 22-23.
• Tyler to Taylor streets Jan. 27-28.
Van Buren and Harrison streets do not bisect Water Street, but are close estimates to distance being under construction.
Here is the south side of Water Street’s street light installation schedule:
• Taylor to Tyler streets Jan. 29.
• Tyler to Polk streets Jan. 30 to Feb. 3.
• Polk to Filmore streets Feb. 4-5.
Installing fiber connections underground will occur Feb. 6-18.
All scheduling are estimations, as delays can happen due to weather and unforeseen circumstances, officials said.
The project has been conducted in stages in fall and winter since 2016. It is paused during the peak tourist seasons of Port Townsend, O’Donnell said.
More information about the wire undergrounding project can be found at https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/jefferson-pud-starting-new-phase-of-construction/.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]