Severed power, cable lines lead to outages

State Department of Transportation meets with utilities companies to prevent future issues

Some Sequim and Port Angeles residents lost electricity and/or Wave Broadband services for several hours last Saturday, after lines were severed during an ongoing construction project to improve fish habitat conditions.

Tina Werner, spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation, said Monday that contractor Scarsella Brothers Inc. was working below the waterline of Bagley Creek on Saturday to replace a box culvert when they encountered utility lines they assumed were abandoned.

She reports crews were working in addition to their typical Monday-through-Friday shift during the state Fish and Wildlife’s allowed “in-water” work window.

When the lines were severed at about 3 p.m. Saturday, Werner said work stopped and Clallam Public Utility District and Wave Broadband officials were notified.

Mark S. Peterson, a spokesperson for Wave, said the excavator mistakenly and completely cut two of Wave’s fiber lines at 2:50 p.m.

He said the lines were “appropriately marked and located, affecting an undetermined number of area customers throughout the afternoon and evening on Saturday.”

Peterson said Wave’s crews worked through the afternoon and evening to restore service fully at 12:53 a.m. Sunday morning.

Wave’s internet, television and phone services were all disrupted, and staff members at its storefront at 1400 W. Washington St., Suite 108, were unable to help customers.

Wave’s Twitter page reported that “a select group of customers may be experiencing a service disruption due to a commercial power outage” with some customers reporting online their services came back around 11 p.m. Saturday night.

Nicole Hartman, spokesperson for Clallam PUD, said about 150 customers were impacted by the outage with electricity restored around 8 p.m.

Werner said digging is not done at Bagley Creek to remove outdated culverts and that DOT, Scarsella and utility companies planned to meet this week to discuss the outages and ensure all live power and cable lines are accurately accounted before moving forward.

“We are sorry for any disruption in service this caused nearby residents and are working to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Werner reports DOT’s staff and project designers met with local utilities’ representatives to “ensure their lines were relocated out of the work zone limits, away from any construction activities.

“The utilities were not relocated to the depth that was requested by WSDOT to accommodate the necessary culvert excavation,” she said. “The excavation performed by our contractor did not exceed that which was anticipated by WSDOT.”

Werner added that local utility partners reported to DOT prior to construction that their lines were removed from state right-of-way, so when lines were discovered they were presumed to be abandoned.

Scarsella Brothers was awarded the approximate $36 million project in March 2020 to replace five fish culverts with two full-span bridges at Bagley and Siebert creeks to eliminate fish barriers and open potential upstream habitat for fish.

Werner said the project is on schedule to finish this fall.

For more on the project, visit tinyurl.com/PDN- BagleySiebertWorkzone.

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