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The City Journals

Power lines to stay above ground in latest 4100 South redesign

May 09, 2018 05:18PM ● By Travis Barton

Power lines will remain above ground as part of 4100 South reconstruction plan. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Plans to reconstruct 4100 South between Bangerter Highway and 5600 West are on schedule, according to city engineer Dan Johnson. But those plans will not include burying the power lines underground for aesthetic purposes. 

Currently working towards the final design of the almost 2-mile long project, Johnson received an informal 4-2 vote from the city council during its April 3 study meeting to not include burying power lines along 4100 South.

To bury them would cost $3.5 million. Power poles would have remained in place as would the highest wires (power transmission wires) as part of the project.

The biggest benefits, Johnson explained to the council, was an improved aesthetic and it might be the only chance in the next few decades to remove the wires due to such high costs (it would cost $14 million to put all wires underground). He said with the road being completely redone—plans include digging 23 inches to replace asphalt and even the dirt underneath—this might be the best time to do it. 

The biggest cons, Johnson said, is the cost and transformer boxes being placed on resident property every five or six houses. It could also mean using that $3.5 million on road reconstruction in other places. 

Councilman Tom Huynh voted against the idea saying with technology constantly improving, they may have a more effective way to bury the lines in 10 years.

Mayor Ron Bigelow said from his experiences talking to the residents along the street, they were concerned about road quality rather than removing power lines.

“It’s all about choices between good things…but which is more important to the majority of the people?” Bigelow said. “That is one of our primary functions is taking care of the roads.”

Councilman Steve Buhler said he would like no wires, but didn’t see a large enough difference to proceed. “I’m not sure that a pole with four wires is whole lot different than one with eight (wires),” he said.

Power lines were buried in a similar project along 3500 South, City Manager Wayne Pyle said, and made a “huge difference” visually. He also said the cost is probably an overestimation considering their history with comparable projects. 

Councilman Lars Nordfelt said that improving the aesthetics would augment the quality of the surrounding neighborhoods. “This is a good thing to invest in.” While Councilman Jake Fitisemanu Jr. said that “if it’s a once-in-a-30-year-stretch, let’s do it now.” 

Resident Mike Markham told the city council he was in favor of the aesthetic choice during the city council meeting on April 3. He said it should be done with extra conduit buried in case they needed to be revisited. It wouldn’t need “to tear everything out again.”

“Let’s do it right the first time so we don’t have to go back a second time,” Markham said. “If we’re going to spend the money to do that road, let’s plan ahead for a little bit of possible growth.”

Other instruction was given to Johnson regarding fences along 4100 South. Johnson explained they would like to do a “beautification process” improving fences where possible. The aim is to make them long lasting meaning masonry or wrought iron fences.

Pyle said they would approach homeowners and reimburse them to replace their fence, but the new fences would have to match certain standards. Doing so would thereby match the rest of the street. This gives homeowners the option to do so with defrayed costs.

Fences certain to be replaced are those in areas where the road will be widened and the fences will have to be removed. The council informally voted unanimously for consistent fencing along the roadway.