COLUMBIA — Workers will begin moving electrical lines underground on Ninth Street between Park Avenue and Ash Street and on Ash Street between Ninth and Tenth streets on Monday.
The streets will stay open, but traffic will sometimes be restricted to one lane over the course of the project, which is expected to take three or four weeks. The city advises drivers to be extremely cautious and take alternative routes when possible during the excavation.
Lanes will be restricted because workers will have to dig across the street, from the west parking lane to the east, patching the street as they go, said Dan Clark, Columbia Water and Light engineering supervisor.
Even though most of the lines will be installed under the sidewalks on the west side of Ninth Street and the south side of Ash Street, workers will have to dig under the streets to connect them to existing facilities, according to a news release from the city.
The project will cost about $60,000, Clark said. It will allow for the three poles on Ash Street beneath Ninth and Tenth streets to be removed and close an underground electric loop, after which additional poles can be removed from the alley behind the Wabash Bush Station and on Orr Street between Park Avenue and Walnut Street.
Although underground lines are more expensive than overhead lines, they are more attractive to a community, Clark said.
“You don’t have to trim the trees, and you don’t have to worry about the ice storms,” he said.
Underground lines could be especially helpful downtown because they require less electrical clearance.
“If you have a ladder, you don’t want to get within 10 feet of an overhead line,” Clark said. “But if the line is underground, then people can maintain their buildings.”
The city has been working to move electric lines underground for the last 30 years or so, Clark said.