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Removal of Bay Street power poles will begin soon

Several utility poles, including this one near the corner of Bay Street and Sidney Avenue, will be removed soon as power lines to downtown businesses are relocated underground. - Brett Cihon/Staff photo
Several utility poles, including this one near the corner of Bay Street and Sidney Avenue, will be removed soon as power lines to downtown businesses are relocated underground.
— image credit: Brett Cihon/Staff photo

Eyesore? Not for much longer.

Within weeks, Puget Sound Energy will take down several utility poles near the intersection of Sidney Avenue and Bay Street as power lines for local businesses are switched to below ground.

Mark Dorsey, the city’s public works director, said the city sent out a letter in mid-December to property owners around Sydney and Bay notifying them that they had 90 days to connect to underground service points. After the 90 days are up, the poles — along with their jumble of wires — will begin to come down.

“At any point after mid-February PSE will remove a main pole in front of the library, the pole to the west in front of Myrhe’s, the pole by the Kitsap Transit ferry dock and the pole by Amy’s,” Dorsey said, noting some others may come down, too.

The pole removal is part of a long, sometimes convoluted journey, he said. The city and PSE entered into a Project Design Agreement for a Bay Street Underground Conversion project in 2006 that would convert all of the stores along Bay Street to power sourced from underground. The agreement meant a 60/40 cost sharing with the company, but also meant the city would have to keep on a tight project schedule. It was signed under the idea that a more complete Bay Street redevelopment was imminent.

“If downtown were basically bulldozed this would go much faster,” Dorsey said. “Because the downtown isn’t redeveloping in one chunk, it’s difficult to do a broad under-grounding.”

The agreement and schedule became effective when the city needed to install underground infrastucture in advance of the State Route 166 repaving project. Underground conduits, vaults and surface restoration was were installed, but the system was never energized.

The city has allocated $98,500 in 2012 to move ahead with the plan. Because of those budget limitations, only a small number of poles can come down at a time.

“It will be noticeable downtown,” Dorsey said. “But it won’t be the sun coming out and birds chirping. You’ll still see some power poles.”

Dorsey doesn’t know if Slip-45 and Myrhe’s have connected to underground power stations yet because both those buildings are currently vacant. But he thinks all the other stores in the area that have been notified have, or are close to, switched their power over.

“My hope is everything is done and in place prior to mid-February,” he said.

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