86 Street construction nearing completion

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Erica Fisher

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

B.C. Hydro spokesperson Bob Gammer explains that as the city is growing there's a need for more power, but only two sets of lines can fit on one pole.

"What you'll see eventually in the long run is there will not be any overhead power lines here in this whole 11 block stretch, the road will be repaved, and what you'll have is an underground duct bank."

Gammer says while seeing the power lines disappear is impressive, most of the work has already been done underground. There are now 18 lines underground from 109 Avenue to just past the school, and in the future that will be extended to the Alaska Highway.

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"That's taken about two months or so to do," he says. "What's going to happen over the next couple of weeks, they're actually going to pull some additional wires under the ground here through the ducting and by the end of the month they'll pull these poles and power lines down for this two block stretch right in front of the school yard down to the corner."

Although Gammer says it's not a concern, the projects are a week or two behind, due in part to the difficulty of installing a concrete vault under the intersection of 86 Street and 100 Avenue to provide access to service the underground power lines.

"Putting that vault in the intersection was quite tricky, because we had other services, water, sewer and gas in the ground there, so to drop it in just right was no easy task, so that did add a little bit to the time.

In addition to being able to add more power, and beautifying the city, Gammer argues that having underground power lines is also safer.

"Overhead power lines with power poles are always at risk of getting hit by a vehicle that veers off the road and smashes into it," he says.

In heavy winds, lines can also swing together and contact each other, causing an outage.

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"So by having the lines underground, we reduce those risks for outages so we should have technically, slightly better reliability here. You're just taking away some more things that could go wrong."

After the section in front of the school is completed, the exposed dirt will get hydroseeded, as it's too late in the year to put down turf as it may not take before it starts freezing. The nine block section from 100 Avenue to 109 Avenue is expected to be paved by the third week of October, essentially signalling the end of construction. That section will have cost $600,000, while the two block section below 100 Avenue will have cost $1 million, due to the high cost of the vault under the intersection. Gammer says so far they are still on budget.

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