Our Town with William Kelly: August 16, 2021

William Kelly  |  Our Town  |  Utilities  |  August 16, 2021

Island-wide utility burial reaches ‘milestone’

The townwide conversion from overhead to underground utilities has crossed the halfway point – meaning more than 50 percent of the work is completed, being built or is under contract for construction.

“This is a significant milestone for the project,” Town Engineer Patricia Strayer told the Town Council on Tuesday.

The council approved seven construction contracts totaling around $25 million for the next three phases of the work.

Digging began in 2017 for the burial of all overhead power, phone and cable television lines on the island. The project has been carved into 15 construction zones or “phases” so it’s easier to manage.

The town says buried utilities are more reliable, safer and aesthetically superior to their overhead counterparts.

Estimated to cost more than $120 million, construction of the entire undertaking is expected to reach completion around 2027.

The projects approved Tuesday include:

  • A nearly $10.9 million contract with Burkhardt Construction to build Phase 4 South, from Peruvian Avenue north to Royal Palm Way and including the Town Marina. That includes $8.8 million for the burial of utilities; the remainder is for rehabilitation of a pump station in the area.
  • A $333,659 contract with Kimley-Horn & Associates, the town’s engineering consultant, for construction services for Phase 4 South.
  • A $6.6 million construction contract with Wilco Electric for Phase 5 South, which includes the areas between South Lake Drive and Hibiscus Avenue, and between Peruvian Avenue and Royal Palm Way, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Lake Worth Lagoon.
  • A $334,159 contract with Kimley-Horn for construction services for Phase 5 South.
  • A $6.4 million contract with C.R. Dunn for construction of Phase 5 North, from Country Club Road southward to Southland Road.
  • A $334,157 contract with Kimley-Horn for construction services for Phase 5 North.
  • A $1.9 million contract with Burkhardt Construction for construction management services for phases 5 north and south.

Construction of the upcoming phases should start by Oct. 1 and be completed in 24 months, Strayer said.

Overall, the construction cost is about 5 percent higher than town estimates from 2019, Strayer said. That is due mostly to inflation in the regional construction industry and delays associated with securing easements needed to locate equipment for the new system on private properties, she said.

“I am comfortable with the increase in costs,” Councilman Lew Crampton said. “We’re still within reasonable parameters.”

Townwide, the work is complete in three of the 15 zones and on the verge of completion in a fourth.

Phase 1 North, from the Palm Beach Inlet to Onondaga Avenue, was finished in March 2019.

Phase 1 South, from the south town limit to Sloan’s Curve, reached completion in April 2020.

Phase 2 North, from Esplanade Way to Ocean Terrace, was completed in October 2020.

Phase 3 North, from Osceola Way to the north side of La Puerta Way, is 99 percent complete. The buried utilities are installed there and the overhead poles are being removed. Street paving should begin next week and be complete within three weeks, Strayer said.

Construction is proceeding in three other zones, according to a July 26 memo from Strayer to Mayor Danielle Moore and the council.

It is 69 percent complete in Phase 2 South, from Sloan’s Curve to the intersection of South Ocean Boulevard and South County Road.

In Phase 3 South, from the alley south of Worth Avenue to the intersection of South Ocean Boulevard and South County Road, the job is 18 percent finished, according to the memo.

In Phase 4 North, from the south side of La Puerta Way to the north side of List Road, work is 37 percent complete.

The design has begun on Phase 6 North, from Chateaux Drive and Kawama Lane to the south side of Plantation Road; on Phase 6 South, from Seaspray Avenue to Royal Poinciana Way; on Phase 7 North, from the Palm Beach Country Club to the south side of List Road; on Phase 7 South, from Atlantic Road northward to Via Los Incas and Sanford Avenue; and on Phase 8, from Royal Poinciana Way to Everglade Avenue. Phase 8 is the only phase not separated into north and south segments.

The project is being paid for with a mixture of town funds and bonds being repaid through assessments on private properties over a period of 30 years.

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