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Charlotte's Powerlines

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There are so many Charlotte developments that could look so much better if we buried power lines. In an urban setting, these lines are a hazard and impede development. I was driving by the Little Sugar Creek Greenway on Kings the other day and was looking toward the skyline and noticed how much the skyline view was blocked because of all those powerlines. It would look so much better if they were just buried. Also, the big transformer box in front of Steelhaus totally screws over the view and takes alot from that project. These lines are not only aesthetically displeasing and obnoxious, but they are also a hazard. Remember a few years ago when we had those ice storms and all the trees fell on the lines? Power was out for days and these lines just added to the damage. These unburied power lines are also much more apt to electricute pedestrians and children playing in the streets.

I know it would cost alot of money, but it is necessary that these lines be buried. It's a minor detail in the whole scheme of things, but I believe the tremendous amount of unburied lines in the Charlotte area are an obstacle to the progression of our urban development. Is there any initiative to bury these lines in Char-Meck?

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When I toured Central27 a few weeks ago, the top floor two-bedroom is the exact same way. When you step out on the small balcony, there is a transformer right in your face.

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Having a mayor that is not on the payroll of Duke Power would be a step. Having more major storms would also help, as it would help reduce the cost gap between above ground utilities and underground utilities.

My favorite is looking at CMStory and seeing an Observer editorial from 1899:

An Underground Thought (editorial)

Charlotte is a city of many poles. The principal streets are lined on either side with the telephone, telegraph, street cars and electric light poles. It would seem a good idea that when the streets are up for the laying of the double car tracks, that the wire be run under ground, as they are in large cities. This would add much to the beauty of the city.

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In an urban setting, these lines are a hazard and impede development. ....

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unattractive? yes. they're also weather prone - which is another reason to bury these things. the mid-rises of charlotte suffer the most from the look of powerlines. M street is one of the worst, as well as central 27 (as mentioned in another thread)... it looks as if the lines are touching the buildings they are so close. if i were a potential buyer into one of these projects... this issue would probably be a deal breaker for me.

if customers demand it... developers, the city and duke power would have to listen. well, maybe not duke power - they don't seem to give %$#@.

great find dubone... i knew mccrory has been mayor for a long time... but, 1899?

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Powerlines are not dangerous and as far as I know, they enable development, not impede it. They are a efficient way to get power to a location. The only valid complaint that I know about them is they are unattractive, but I am not sure it's worth the cost of changing and burying the literally tens of thousands of service points which would make line burial possible.

A service point is the metering point on an individual's home for example. To go to buried lines you have to rip out the overhead service and put in a buried one. If the house is old, the permitting people will also require it to be brought up to code which can cost thousands of dollars/home. All of this has to be done before an overhead line can be removed.

This just isn't going to happen.

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I've noticed excessive power lines in Charlotte pics too.

To me it's like a vestige of left over 19th Century......simply hideous. The opposite of Feng Shui.

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Downed powerlines certainly are dangerous, and in a storm these elevated powerlines have the potential to be downed from trees falling on them on wind blowing over the poles. If a powerline is down and live after a storm, it can be very deadly, especially if it's floating in a puddle of water. If these lines were buried we wouldn't have to worry about this issue.

Also, these powerlines can impede development not only because they are unattractive, but because they simply get in the way of things. If more powerlines were buried I can guarantee you that Charlotte would be a more urban city, with buildings closer to the road and wider sidewalks, along with more streetside seating at restaurants.

Yes, this would be a tremendous cost, but if the city and Duke Power start to bury these lines now, maybe 25 years from now they won't be an issue. It will just take time.

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I would contend that buried powerlines are just as dangerous if not more because people don't know where they are. In any case I am not aware of anyone in Charlotte being killed by any power lines in recent memory. I did witness what happens when a backhoe digs into a bured powerline. The metal shovel was blown off of it and the operator sent to the hospital.

One more time. Duke isn't going to pay to bury these lines, because most of the work will occur on private property and will require the owners to rewire for the buried lines. Furthemore Duke just can't bury lines where it pleases as it will have to acquire, at cost an easement from every property owner before it is able to do so. Finally removal of the poles also means that cable and telephone also have to be buried.

In the areas that have overhead wires this isn't going to happen, now, 25 years from now, if ever.

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One more time. Duke isn't going to pay to bury these lines, because most of the work will occur on private property and will require the owners to rewire for the buried lines. Furthemore Duke just can't bury lines where it pleases as it will have to acquire, at cost an easement from every property owner before it is able to do so. Finally removal of the poles also means that cable and telephone also have to be buried.

In the areas that have overhead wires this isn't going to happen, now, 25 years from now, if ever.

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When I was younger I too absolutely loathed powerlines. Now in my late 30's they don't bother me much, though I still hate sagging lines. When they are pulled tight and appear horizontal to the ground I don't mind them.

In fact, the web of wires that power the electric buses in San Francisco give the walkable city a very cozy feel I think.

I lived in Laguna Bch, CA in 1998-1999, and they were in the process of burying their lines. The ocean views from the homes that clung to the steep hills in Laguna certainly benefitted from this decision. However, the cost per homeowner back then was between $25-40k. And while these homes were definitely worth a lot of money due to their location, in reality the majority of them were 1,300 sf shacks. So $40k is a lot just to bury the lines.

Since burying lines in cities like CLT and ATL(its sagging lines really are horrible) probably isn't feasable, I wish they would just make them look a little more futuristic, like this picture from Japan.

japan-concrete-pole.jpg

What I do feel strongly about is replacing EVERY traffic signal on wires with the California-style mast arm. I think they are elegant and beautiful.

us-101_nb_pacific_highway_04.jpg

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Surprised Duke Power would really be beotchy about it, they much have lots of fun and like having to deal with downed lines and power outages every time major storms happen. :lol:

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One way that would improve aesthetics (and thus, value) of major corridors, is to use back streets and allies for the lines. What happens now is that they all head to the main road, so you have that corridor holding the lines for many neighboring streets. That leads to all the mess of lines, which are often not organized at all. I think it would be more proper to distribute the lines to the smaller streets, and actually bury them whereever a significant number of them are. That would reduce the impact to lots of old homes which would need to be converted to support the underground lines, but would solve the major aesthetic burden that the corridors have.

However, I do think the problem is primarily in the oldest parts of the city. I think there should be an ordinance, and a small tax collected within the specific neighborhoods to fund a long term conversion of those lines. It wouldn't need to be every line and every street, but why not all UMUD areas, TOD areas, and then the major corridors (Central, Kings, Elizabeth, 4th, 3rd, Kenilworth, South, S. Tryon, Wilkinson, Morehead, Beatties Ford, Statesville, Graham, N. Tryon, Caldwell, and 10th. Those would be the major corridors supporting all the dense pre-1930s neighborhoods.

Danger is not the selling point here. But we don't want to be an ugly and cheap city.

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Maybe one day we'll see the power lines as a sort of nostalgic local quirk. When most other major cities have long since cleared their central districts of any above-ground lines, we'll still have those old 19th-century-style poles along our sidewalks. I'm sure that many in Chicago would love to get rid of the El, but most consider it part of the city's style.

Not much consolation, I know; just trying to make lemonade ;)

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Does Charlotte have more overhead wires than other cities its size ? Atlantans were complaining about their situation awhile back. And I know I was rather put off by the crazy welter of sagging posts, power lines and tram wires in Toronto.

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^Not really. It's about average. We get the occasional ice storm that takes down lines (maybe once/twice decade) and it inconveniences people for a few hours with no power. 95% of it could be eliminated if people would simply remove the trees on their property that overhang their power lines.

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You would think that being in a state with the most ice storms and lots of hurricanes would compel power companies to bury powerlines, particularly in larger cities. Yet, Charlotte is plagued by unsightly powerlines at every turn. It really makes a difference. In DC, powerlines are almost completely buried throughout the city, and it makes the city look so much better. Powerlines look rinky dink, trailer, trashy.

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Since burying lines in cities like CLT and ATL(its sagging lines really are horrible) probably isn't feasable, I wish they would just make them look a little more futuristic, like this picture from Japan.

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That DOES seem like a step back. I'm not sure I understand why they would do that unless it were temporary. The road wasn't widened by that much, so I can't figure it would have been that hard to reuse the mast arms for the reconfigured road.

Sadly, this city does do cost savings in a counter intuitive way, such as throwing out the valuable granite curbs on West Morehead, while spending lots of money to add them other places. It would not completely surprise me if they didn't really notice that they already had mast arms there, and approved the wire-hung lights as a cost savings.

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If Charlotte had simply kept to its roots and continued to place utilities in alleys (Plaza Midwood, Eastover, Myers Park and Dilworth), they would not be as noticeable. At the very least, I would just like to see major thoroughfares done. South Blvd, Providence Rd, Wilkinson Blvd, Central Ave, and Tryon St. South Blvd could be easily done using existing alleys (as could East Blvd).

As development continues to get dense, they will have to be buried. Trunk lines are too heavy to hang on standard poles (which is why we have high-tension lines on steel towers).

Virtually every European city has majority underground service, as do Minneapolis-St Paul, Sarasota, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and Des Moines.

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So maybe that is just the answer, we aren't dense enough to make them cost effective, and we just need to get to a point where we are. Or is this just Duke cheating by stringing up dozens of wires on the same poles, rather than paying for a proper trunk line?

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So maybe that is just the answer, we aren't dense enough to make them cost effective, and we just need to get to a point where we are. Or is this just Duke cheating by stringing up dozens of wires on the same poles, rather than paying for a proper trunk line?

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My problem isn't with poles everywhere, my problem is with poles remaining even after an area has been substantially re-developed. That is the time to bury them, if none of the other issues (such as flood plains) are there. If they can overcome the 'difficult to fix' problem in the culdesac neighborhoods, they can overcome it in these newly dense neighborhoods that have significantly more customers per square mile than suburbia. The money is there, they just don't want to coordinate to get it done, because they are fine with status quo.

Politically, we need to make it known that the status quo is not okay on these corridors.

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Ironically it is the cul-de-sac neighborhoods, which came into being in the mid-80s, where you won't find this problem because developers have buried all of the lines in these neighborhoods.

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I detest overhead power lines, myself. Not only are they incredibly ugly, each one of those poles was a tree that got cut down! Ugh! At the very least, I wish they would replace the tree trunk poles with metal ones.

Unfortunately, I agree that we probably won't see buried lines in most of Charlotte's older neighborhoods because of cost and other factors posted in this thread. However, the issue with the hanging traffic lights is a different story. That would be much easier to address and I agree that it makes Charlotte look like Podunk, USA to have traffic signals dangling from electrical wiring sagging over urban intersections.

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