Town of Palm Beach Undergrounding of Utilities Project
Newsletter | October 10, 2016
Task Force Update
After the March 2016 Election where Town of Palm Beach voters approved a Town-Wide Referendum to bury overhead utility lines, the Town’s Underground Utilities Task Force remained an advisory committee and assumed the role of a Citizen’s oversight committee to better monitor the undergrounding project, ensure transparency, accountability and that the project stayed on schedule and within budget. Please see below for an update on the Underground Utilities Task Force meetings.
Magellan Advisors was selected to perform a Broadband Infrastructure Assessment. Magellan Advisors will consult the Town on the best approach to provide residents broadband technology and the infrastructure needed in the community. Magellan Advisors discussed how the cost of broadband installation could be reduced, how smart poles could be utilized, the capabilities of fiber optic cables and the successes other municipalities have had by installing fiber optic technology.
Town of Palm Beach Director of Finance, Jane Struder, presented to the UUTF the Project Dashboard. The Dashboard is a publicly available document that tracks and monitors the planning, design, schedule, budget and financing of the undergrounding project. The Dashboard will monitor the project status while ensuring the budget of each component of the project is maintained.
The Underground Utilities Task Force (UUTF) requested the Undergrounding Project Team provide a full master plan for the project. The UUTF requested a copy of the master plan in order to better plan for the future, monitor the project status, ensure deadlines are being met and to keep residents informed.
In an effort to maintain accountability, the UUTF made a motion to hire a full-time contractual Project Coordinator whose sole responsibility would be to oversee the project. Town Manager Tom Bradford will be providing a list of requirements the Project Coordinator should have for the position.
The UUTF requested a presentation and plan on how the undergrounding project construction would take into account other Town construction projects and how the project will affect traffic. The traffic planning is for the purpose of mitigating traffic associated with construction activities. The Project Team will address these questions at the January UUTF meeting.
Undergrounding Project Status
An Undergrounding Project Team has been assembled to complete the project work. Led by Kimley-Horn, one of the country’s premier design consulting firms, the Project Team consists of local engineering and communications firms and coordinates the undergrounding project with representatives of Florida Power & Light, Comcast and AT&T. The Project Team works in conjunction with the Town Engineer, Public Works Department and the Town Manager and provides monthly updates to the UUTF. For more information about the status of the Undergrounding Project, please read below.
Town of Palm Beach engineers completed the first round of meter box inspections north of Onondaga Avenue and south of Sloan’s Curve. The goal of the inspection was to identify the location of the meter boxes so that information could be cataloged and provided to Florida Power & Light in preparation for their inspection. Florida Power & Light is now conducting their review of the internal components of meter boxes in the same geographic area.
The initial project surveying has been completed as well as utility investigations. Over the next two months, additional field work will be performed north of Onondaga and south of Sloan’s curve to verify the vertical locations of significant existing underground utilities that need to be avoided during construction. All of this information is being used to complete the construction plans for these areas so they are ready for bidding in February 2017.
Team Member Profile
Patricia Strayer, P.E. has been promoted to Town Engineer. In this role, Patricia is tasked with applying sound engineering and architectural principles to plans, budgets, designs, and constructing infrastructure that maximizes functionality and minimizes maintenance, repair and replacement costs.
New Town Engineer
As Town Engineer, Patricia Strayer will be responsible for preparing budget estimates for infrastructure projects; planning, designing and overseeing construction of public facilities; completing design, cost estimates, and construction of miscellaneous minor projects not planned or budgeted elsewhere, coordinating with other entities to address engineering issues and address complaints, seeking new and better ways to provide Town services and conducting development review and contract administration.
Saves and Raves
Team members responsible for the undergrounding project have been tasked to identify cost saving opportunities within the project as well ensure the project is utilizing the latest technology to increase transparency and improve efficiency.
FPL, AT&T, and Comcast have been working collaboratively with the Project Team not only in the detailed design of the first phase of the project (north of Onondaga and south of Sloan’s Curve) but also in developing the master plan for their networks across the entire Town. This spirit of collaboration has allowed the planning and design work to remain on schedule and budget.
Working together between the Project Team and the Town’s Public Works Department, previous project studies and surveys have been able to be reused for the benefit of this project. This has saved approximately $66,000 in project costs since the design phase began in June.
Upcoming activities, meetings and information for Town residents
Between September 26th – October 31st Florida Power & Light will be sending representatives to review the internal components of single family home electric meter box. Only residents living north of Onondaga Avenue or south of Sloan’s Curve will be having their meter boxes reviewed at this time.Residents living in the inspection area have been notified.