The series of utility poles that protruded into Beach Street, amputating the passenger side mirrors of vehicles that got too close, are gone. The poles were removed by Eversource just prior to last weekend’s snowstorm.
“It’s amazing,” Tisbury selectman Melinda Loberg said in a phone call Wednesday. “To have all the poles just on one side of the street and no wires going across the road and no poles in the sidewalk, sticking out into the street, is a really huge improvement.”
The project has been in the works for years. In August 2013, officials from Eversource, then called NSTAR, met with a group of Tisbury town officials to discuss the removal of four telephone poles on Beach Street, between Water Street and Main Street.
Preparation began in the spring of 2015, but because the road had to be opened up for conduit installation, the work was delayed during the busy summer months.
Finally, in November 2015, Eversource crews began trenching work on the road in anticipation of removing the four utility poles and transferring wires across the street. In preparation for removing the four poles, a crew installed three new poles on the opposite side of the road. Once Verizon and Comcast moved their wires, Eversource completed the removal.
More work to be done
The town is hoping to do similar work on other roads.
“This just makes us think, wow, this is what could happen if we persist in getting them to do it in the other places that we want,” Ms. Loberg said. “We just have to weigh it against all the other priorities that we have.”
For future pole movements or removals, the town is looking at Union Street, Main Street, and Beach Road.
Ms. Loberg said when Fred LaPiana was the Department of Public Works director, the town voted to place utilities underground on Union Street and Main Street. The town paid for conduits to be put in, which were installed at that time.
On Union Street, the town underwrote the cost and helped abutters change and upgrade their electric service so the electric utility could be removed from the poles. Now Verizon and Comcast must follow suit, which Ms. Loberg said town administrator Jay Grande is working on.
“I think that one can go speedily,” Ms. Loberg said. “But on Main Street, that’s going to take some time.”
Despite having underground conduits already installed, Eversource said more inspections are needed. The town is also looking to place underground utilities on Beach Road as a part of the larger redesign of that road.
“You might notice that the poles are, in many cases, in the sidewalk, and it’s really problematic,” Ms. Loberg said.
The work comes down to cost. She said the cost of placing utilities underground is approximately $1 million per quarter mile. Eversource covered the cost of the Beach Street work because the poles were in the road, and that’s illegal, Ms. Loberg said.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will cover the cost of moving poles out of the right of way on Beach Road, but if the town requests conduit installation and underground utilities, MassDOT will only pay as much as it would take to move the poles. The town covers the difference.
“It’s a matter of resources for the town and what’s the best way to spend them,” Ms. Loberg said.