Win­ter Park to bury power lines along Fair­banks Ave.

Con­struc­tion on $16 mil­lion pro­ject will be­gin Nov. 1

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Lisa Maria Garza

The city of Win­ter Park is team­ing up with Duke En­ergy for a year­long pro­ject to bury transmission lines that run along the south side of Fair­banks Av­enue be­tween In­ter­state 4 and Harper Street.

Con­struc­tion on the $16 mil­lion pro­ject, funded by a Florida Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion grant, is slated to be­gin Nov. 1 and will be done in five phases, start­ing at Harper Street then mov­ing west.

A 30-foot-long, 14-foot-wide tun­nel jack­ing pit – used for mi­cro­tun­nel­ing to put the lines un­der­ground – will be in­stalled on Harper Street, re­quir­ing clo­sure of the area be­tween Com­stock Av­enue and Fair­banks Av­enue un­til mid-Fe­bru­ary.

Dan D’Alessan­dro, di­rec­tor of the city’s Elec­tric Util­ity Depart­ment, said the un­der­ground lines will be less vul­ner­a­ble to ex­ter­nal haz­ards than the ex­ist­ing poles.

“They’re ex­posed to any ob­ject, like a tree, wind, if a car hits a pole, and the lines fall,” D’Alessan­dro said.

Af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma, about 9,000 cus­tomers in Win­ter Park were with­out power — a si­t­u­a­tion of­fi­cials are hop­ing to avoid in the fu­ture as more ar­eas are con­verted to an un­der­ground sys­tem.

About half of Win­ter Park’s power lines are al­ready un­der­ground and the city has com­mit­ted to spend­ing $3.5 mil­lion an­nu­ally un­til all lines are buried by 2026.

The poles on Fair­banks Av­enue carry power lines op­er­ated by Duke En­ergy and cable and tele­phone lines owned by other com­pa­nies, which is why FDOT is fund­ing the pro­ject, D’Alessan­dro said.

Al­though un­der­ground out­ages are rare, they are dif­fi­cult to lo­cate be­cause crews have to dig up the ground in­stead of re­string­ing over­head wires. Only one of the power dis­rup­tions in Win­ter Park af­ter Irma was caused by dam­age to part of the un­der­ground sys­tem.

“When it does hap­pen, it takes longer to re­store but not sig­nif­i­cantly longer the way we de­signed it,” D’Alessan­dro said.

Most of the con­struc­tion on Fair­banks will hap­pen overnight but front en­trances to some busi­nesses will not be ac­ces­si­ble dur­ing the day, traf­fic will shift and pedes­tri­ans won’t be able to use the side­walks while crews are work­ing.

To help mit­i­gate traf­fic prob­lems, the mid­dle lane on Fair­banks Av­enue, cur­rently used as a left-turn lane, will be changed into an east­bound travel lane.

For up­dated in­for­ma­tion about the pro­ject, visit www.city ofwin­ter­park.org/fair­banks

lgarza@or­lan­dosen­tinel.com or 407-420-5354 Twit­ter: @LMari­aGarza

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