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Town preps for underground utility project

April 3, 2013
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A workshop about the final element of an improvement project along North Estero Boulevard informed affected property and business owners at the Pink Shell Resort Thursday afternoon.

The North Estero Underground Utility Project featuring the planned "undergrounding" of electrical wires crossing Estero Boulevard is expected to commence at the end of the summer, take six months and begin around the Times Square area. Florida Light & Power will lead the construction process.

The Town of Fort Myers Beach has planned to invest $750,000 for the project. There is no direct cost for those affected individual home owners, but Town officials are seeking signed utility easement agreements (right to use specific piece of property for specific purpose; not surrendering it) for the temporary work by May 15.

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The project will involve the “undergrounding” of electrical wires crossing Estero Boulevard.

"The easement is no cost to you. It is allowing a third party the right to use a specific portion of a property in order to get the underground work accomplished," said Public Involvement Specialist MerriBeth Farnham of the HD PR Group.

A mailer with specific information was to be mailed out this week.

Pre-construction activities involve such actions as the voluntary easement signings, staking, tree trimming and removal of obstacles. During construction, FPL will install handholds and transformer pads, remove unnecessary overhead facilities and transfer service to a new source. Any work with Comcast and Century Link is also being coordinated. Due to piping and underground conduits already in place under the ground, there will be no tearing up of the road. Trenchless technology and a directional bore technique will be used.

"Our whole goal is for minimal inconvenience," said Farnham, who cited the purpose of the project is to decrease momentary power outages and make the corridor more aesthetically pleasing.

Property owners will have an option to have an underground service continue from the property line to their building. It will be each individual's responsibility and choice to pay for that service.

"Typically, workers will be in front of a property for one or two weeks," said Farnham.

During the project, there will be two planned power outages, involving a service transfer outage (from overhead to underground system; 1-6 hours) and a feeder transfer outage (main line from Fort Myers; up to 8 hours).

"You will get notification from Town officials prior to each outage," said Farnham. "If you know of anyone who has special needs (medical) related to the use of electricity, please have them contact us so we can make plans to help them."

The project will specifically include the removal of 17 sets of crossover wires, and where possible, the removal of electrical utility poles. Should a property owner elect not to sign a voluntary utility easement agreement, overhead crossings will have to be left in place at that location.

"There may be areas that, unless we have an easement, we will not be able to take that overhead crossing underground," said Town Public Works Director Cathie Lewis. "In most cases, we will be able to take it underground."

Biodegradable paint will be sprayed directly before utility work. This acts as an informal indicator that work will be done in that area in the next couple of weeks.

Property owners are encouraged to contact Town officials or PR officials and prepare by trimming back landscaping before the project begins.

Project staff will be available for follow-up meetings with affected individuals who express an interest.

For more information or questions about the overall project, contact Public Involvement Specialist MerriBeth Farnham of the HD PR Group at mfarnham@hdprgroup or 464-3345. Project updates can be found on by clicking on "Your Government" Tab, then Departments, Public Works, Project Updates and North Estero Blvd Underground Utility Project.



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