NSTAR begins push/pull on new mainland extension cord

Work by marine contractors on a joint project for utility giants NSTAR and Comcast to run a new undersea cable from Falmouth to Martha’s Vineyard enters its final stage Thursday.

NSTAR spokesman Michael Durand said that Thursday, a barge anchored in Vineyard Sound about 3,000 feet from Martha’s Vineyard would begin pushing/pulling one end of the new cable through a pipe in the ocean floor up onto land on the Island. “That step, as well as plowing the majority of the length of the cable into the sand underwater, will continue 24/7 through the weekend,” Mr. Durand said. “If all goes according to plan, on Monday we’ll have moved the barge to about 3,000 feet from Falmouth and we’ll push/pull the other end onto the mainland.”

The project began in December. Contractors conducted shoreside horizontal directional drilling from the land in order to install a conduit under the seabed in order to avoid disruption of fragile barrier beaches and sea grass beds where the cable comes ashore.

Once completed, the 4.5-mile cable, about 5.5 inches in diameter, will leave the mainland near Mill Road in East Falmouth and come ashore at a utility right of way in the Mink Meadows area of West Chop where an existing cable now comes ashore.

NSTAR, the public power utility that supplies electricity to Martha’s Vineyard, and Comcast are footing the bill for the $20 million project. The hybrid cable will replace a failed electric cable and carry fiber-optic strands for Comcast, which wanted a backup for its existing fiber-optic link through which it provides television and communications services.