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Power Lines in Columbia

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What do you think it would take for Columbia to begin the process of burying the power lines in the downtown core? I know this has been done on Gervais St, Lady St. (in process), 5 points (in process), Main St., etc. However other areas such as Assembly, Devine, Blossom (and all around the USC campus), Bull, Elmwood, etc. are in dire need of the removal of the power lines.

Simply put, it would be a major improvement for the aethetic appeal of Columbia if this were to be done on as many of the streets as possible.

I know this takes time and money, but does it necessarily take a full "beautification project" in order for this task to be completed?

It seems the more ciites I visit the less power lines I see. Why is this not the case in Columbia? It is such a blight on a fair city IMO.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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I don't know anything about the costs or logistics involved in such a task, but it sure would be nice if they would do it -- especially the ones near the river.

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It's a very expensive thing to do and the city is gradually tackling that item. After Main Street is complete, it would be awesome to see the lines on Assembly Street buried and turned into a grand boulevard. It is already nice on the northern part near Elmwood Avenue. Elmwood is another street that would make a grand boulevard, especially with it being such an important gateway into downtown Columbia. I'd like to see Maurices move elsewhere, though. Maybe to Pelion. lol.

:rofl::alc::P

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I guess another question I have is why it has taken them so long to start.

You would think from a city council perspective it would have been towards the top of the list for years now.

When I was in downtown Charlotte not too long ago I did not see a power line and it made a huge impression on how I viewed the aesthetic appeal of that city (Charlottes main problem is no trees downtown, but that is another topic).

There are so many roads in the dowtown area that need to have the lines burried that I fear it will be 2050 before it happens, and that is sad.

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I guess another question I have is why it has taken them so long to start.

You would think from a city council perspective it would have been towards the top of the list for years now.

When I was in downtown Charlotte not too long ago I did not see a power line and it made a huge impression on how I viewed the aesthetic appeal of that city (Charlottes main problem is no trees downtown, but that is another topic).

There are so many roads in the dowtown area that need to have the lines burried that I fear it will be 2050 before it happens, and that is sad.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Because of the restrictive annexation laws it is hard for SC cities to acquire the wealth that NC cities do. I would love to see a relaxation of the annexation laws here. Columbia would have 250 to 275K in the city limits if that happened.

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It's a very expensive thing to do and the city is gradually tackling that item. After Main Street is complete, it would be awesome to see the lines on Assembly Street buried and turned into a grand boulevard. It is already nice on the northern part near Elmwood Avenue. Elmwood is another street that would make a grand boulevard, especially with it being such an important gateway into downtown Columbia. I'd like to see Maurices move elsewhere, though. Maybe to Pelion. lol.

:rofl:  :alc:  :P

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That would be so impressive to do that with Assembly Street and upper Gervais Street. Assembly could become a grand gateway boulevard! I would like to see buried lines, better lighting, and planted palmetto trees on all the main boulevards...California's and Colorado's cities do that. Its amazing how aesthetically appealing it is.

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That would be so impressive to do that with Assembly Street and upper Gervais Street. Assembly could become a grand gateway boulevard! I would like to see buried lines, better lighting, and planted palmetto trees on all the main boulevards...California's and Colorado's cities do that. Its amazing how aesthetically appealing it is.

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I agree. I've wanted to see Palmetto's planted in the medians of all of the main thoroughfares. After all, it's the state tree and Columbia is the capital and Palmetto's survive the Columbia winters fairly well.

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Here's an article about a neighborhood in Jacksonville that is paying to bury their lines. As you can see it's not cheap, and requires a high level of participation. it's worth it IMO though.

Ortega neighborhood to get its JEA lines buried

An area can go underground with its lines if 90 percent of homeowners agree.

By ZACH FRIDELL

The Times-Union

The neighborhood around Grand Avenue and Ortega Boulevard in Jacksonville will have fewer electrical wires and fewer tree-trimming crews cutting back the old oaks, thanks to a JEA pilot program to move all wires underground.

In order for the program to start, 90 percent of a neighborhood must agree to the $4,200-per-house project. The project can be financed through JEA by adding $22 per month to the electricity bill for 30 years.

The 10 percent of the neighborhood that doesn't agree to the project will still get the power lines put underground on their street, but will not incur a fee.

"The beauty of this neighborhood is marred by the unsightly wires and poles. It's just visual pollution at its worst," said Anne Hicks, one of the Ortega organizers. "That's the major thrust [for putting lines underground], beside the fact that I think that we will not have the significant power outages and so forth that we suffered during the hurricane."

There is also a cost to move the power lines underground from the street to the house, which homeowners would have to pay on their own. JEA estimates this will cost an average of $2,500 per house, but the price would vary depending on the distance the lines had to travel.

At a Feb. 15 meeting, JEA allocated $4 million to the program, enough to fund up to 1,000 customers per year. The Grand Avenue and Ortega Boulevard area has about 180 houses involved, and community leaders garnered the required 90 percent acceptance.

Because this is a pilot program, the utility has been working out some kinks in its payment policies.

Factoring in interest, the final cost after 30 years would be $7,920 per house. Under the original plan, residents could pay off their portion at any time but were still responsible for the interest on the entire 30-year period.

JEA Chief Executive Jim Dickenson said Monday the policy of forcing residents to pay interest would be changed before the project is implemented. Dickenson said a buyout plan would be available at any time without paying the entire 30-year interest.

"The devil is in the details," said Ron Whittington, JEA spokesman.

Another detail that has become a sticking point for the program is the inclusion of Bell South and Comcast wires into the lines. So far, Comcast has agreed to have its wires put underground, but Bell South has made no such agreement. There also may be an additional cost to put those lines underground.

Hamid Zahir, director of customer order management at JEA and one of the lead engineers on the project, said there would be fewer wires on the side of the road and no lines crossing over the streets.

However, Zahir said moving the lines underground wouldn't prevent all power outages.

"I wouldn't connect any reliability to undergrounding, but there might be some benefit for moving the lines underground as far as the trees in an area impacting the outages," he said, explaining that falling tree limbs wouldn't knock out service. "But that doesn't mean the service wouldn't go out."

Whittington said the lines underground can still be shut down by lightning strikes and other causes.

All new houses in Jacksonville are required by city ordinance to install their power lines underground, and according to JEA, 56 percent of the city's utilities are underground.

Whittington said the time it takes to repair any problems would roughly be the same because "it's a little more time-consuming to find the problem, but it's faster to fix it."

The first neighborhood to put lines underground was in Avondale. The neighborhood was having water and sewer work completed and elected to move the lines at that time, but the Ortega project is the first area accepted under the new plan and without other utility work being completed.

There is at least one other neighborhood that has stepped forward and asked JEA to look into moving lines underground. All projects are voluntary at this point and require community cooperation.

"You're going to need a champion in the neighborhood to push it forward," Dickenson said.

Whittington said that since it's a pilot program, it will be reassessed in two years.

zach.fridelljacksonville.com, (904) 359-4025

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That's a great idea! Transfer that to commercial areas and add a little to each business' electric bill each month. The one thing I don't agree with is that those who oppose the burial don't have to pay for it: that is absurd!

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Good article. This statement says it all...

by the unsightly wires and poles. It's just visual pollution at its worst

It is visual pollution at its worst. Kudos to this neighborhood. THat is money well spent.

56% of the city of Jacksonvilles lines are buried. I would say Columbia is around 5%.

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Good article. This statement says it all...

It is visual pollution at its worst.  Kudos to this neighborhood.  THat is money well spent.

56% of the city of Jacksonvilles lines are buried.  I would say Columbia is around 5%.

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I have said it before, cities in Florida know how to get it done. And Jax is definitely one of my favorite cities of all time. I hope to settle down there someday, God willing. Anyway, I would agree with that comparison of percentages with just about ALL of SC's major cities. My hometown is notorious for inadequate lighting as well as "visual pollution". I love that term! ^_^

What I don't understand is why this state, that is hurricane prone, hasn't considered the importance of burying utility lines? Think about it; imagine how many less power outages Columbia and Charleston would have if more lines were underground? Burying the lines keeps overhanging tree branches from falling over and cutting the lines. I guarantee that if the majority of lines had been buried in Charleston when Hurricane Hugo came, power would have been restored to the entire community in less than half the time it actually took.

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Good point. I have actually been down in Charleston all week working and this city is just as bad in terms of above ground power lines. The same (obvious) concept implies, downtown Charelston would look even more fantastic if the lines were underground.

I actually stay with a friend who lives on Daniel Island in Charleston from time to time. Being a new development there are NO above ground lines. You would not believe how good it looks.

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Good point.  I have actually been down in Charleston all week working and this city is just as bad in terms of above ground power lines.  The same (obvious) concept implies, downtown Charelston would look even more fantastic if the lines were underground.

I actually stay with a friend who lives on Daniel Island in Charleston from time to time.  Being a new development there are NO above ground lines.  You would not believe how good it looks.

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I've been down there a few times, and you're right. It is really beautiful with the streetscape on Daniel Island. The lighting around the community is very good, and no "visual pollution" there! :)

Waccamatt, you have a great point about Florida. I just wish that SC adopted more of Florida's rules for running the state...the highway situation alone would be improved if SC did the same things Florida did.

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I have said it before, cities in Florida know how to get it done. And Jax is definitely one of my favorite cities of all time. I hope to settle down there someday, God willing. Anyway, I would agree with that comparison of percentages with just about ALL of SC's major cities. My hometown is notorious for inadequate lighting as well as "visual pollution". I love that term!  ^_^

What I don't understand is why this state, that is hurricane prone, hasn't considered the importance of burying utility lines? Think about it; imagine how many less power outages Columbia and Charleston would have if more lines were underground? Burying the lines keeps overhanging tree branches from falling over and cutting the lines. I guarantee that if the majority of lines had been buried in Charleston when Hurricane Hugo came, power would have been restored to the entire community in less than half the time it actually took.

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Another benefit is that for Columbia and north there would be less threat from ice storms. I think that all power lines should be buried. It makes no sense to have them out where they can be damaged. It could be done gradually as they have to replace poles and lines. I suspect that burying lines involves cooperation from the local power company.

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Another benefit is that for Columbia and north there would be less threat from ice storms. I think that all power lines should be buried.  It makes no sense to have them out where they can be damaged. It could be done gradually as they have to replace poles and lines. I suspect that burying lines involves cooperation from the local power company.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:thumbsup: Dude, absolutely! I forgot about the icestorms...the hell we went through last year in Cola is quite a shining example of the importance of burying those lines.

I don't think that all power lines can be buried though. I'm talking specifically about the major grid lines that basically power a whole city or a metro area. The reason that these lines are always placed above on massive utility poles is that the lines generate a large amount of heat, and they use the high placement to keep them cool. At least that's what an SCE&G guy told me. Supposedly, burying major lines also reduce the amount of energy they can carry?? :blink: Please don't quote me on that, I'm just referring to what this guy told me...I don't know if that's true or not.

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Oh. I thought we were talking about street level lines. Those bigones carry hundreds of megawatts which are broken down into kilowatts at those big ugly transformer stations you see everywhere. Then those are broken down by individual transformers at your house into 120w I think. Those little green boxes that alot of people have on their land somewhere.

Those big ones are an eyesore. They could at least bury them under the river area to make that more attractive.

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Oh. I thought we were talking about street level lines. Those bigones carry hundreds of megawatts which are broken down into kilowatts at those big ugly transformer stations you see everywhere. Then those are broken down by individual transformers at your house into 120w I think. Those little green boxes that alot of people have on their land somewhere.

Those big ones are an eyesore. They could at least bury them under the river area to make that more attractive.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I guess I interpreted you wrong when you said that "all power lines" should be buried. We WERE talking about street level lines...I agree that the big ones are eyesores. I'm not sure if they could bury the ones along the river, but it definitely would beautify the entire river area. Since I moved here, I've observed that Columbia does not utilize its waterfronts like it should. That includes both rivers and Lake Murray.

Anyway, I have seen other cities that have made the ugly transformer stations into pleasant roadside open-air "buildings". The stations are placed in their perimeter, and the perimeter is surrounded by a tall stucco wall with columns at each corner. I've seen those in Florida and Colorado. The look is very aesthetically pleasing in comparison to just a chain-link fence!

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Since I moved here, I've observed that Columbia does not utilize its waterfronts like it should. That includes both rivers and Lake Murray.

Anyway, I have seen other cities that have made the ugly transformer stations into pleasant roadside open-air "buildings". The stations are placed in their perimeter, and the perimeter is surrounded by a tall stucco wall with columns at each corner. I've seen those in Florida and Colorado. The look is very aesthetically pleasing in comparison to just a chain-link fence!

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That has been a historical problem with Cola. SC's maximum security prison was located on the river for decades. The lake is less public oriented so far as I can tell. I've never actualyl spent any time there though. Driven by a few times though.

I would be infavor of any plan to disguise these things. Anything.

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That has been a historical problem with Cola. SC's maximum security prison was located on the river for decades. The lake is less public oriented so far as I can tell. I've never actualyl spent any time there though. Driven by a few times though.

I would be infavor of any plan to disguise these things. Anything.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Spartan, I see we're both insomniacs...lol

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Just to add one additional note to this thread, I traveled to Norfolk, Virginia this weekend. To be honest I expected a run-down "naval" town that would not be especially aethetically pleasing. Boy was I wrong.

First and foremost, I did not see ONE power line in the entire downtown core and what a difference that did make. The visual pollution was removed and you found yourself focusing on the architecture of the buildings, the statues, the landscaping, the streetscaping, the stores and restaurants, etc. Again, I am sure you have all been to cities where the lines are burried and can relate to the difference it makes.

Secondly, Norfolk has done an amazing job with their streetscaping projects. There were uniform sections of lights along the streets similar to what we find on Gervais St, and in 5 points once the work is completed. I could not believe how many different areas (both commercial and residential) of the downtown area incoroporated nice looking streetlights into there overall presentation. It looked fantastic. Were all the lights the same? No, but this only added to the overall visual appeal.

Finally, every stoplight in the city was affixed to a visually pleasing overhang pole, most of which were topped with a streetlight. This too was a huge stimulant to the senses.

I know that Norfolk is "bigger" then Columbia, but it is no Atlanta or even Charlotte. Again I ask, if they can get these extremely important measures implemented, why can't we?

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Keep in mind how poor a state SC is. There is a hell of alot more money in Florida.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Considering how fast that cash cow on the northern end of our coast is getting fat; we should be able to milk it in no time to make all downtown power-lines dissappear.

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SCANA has refused to bury utility wires in the downtowns of cities in its service area. Duke Power buried lines in its downtowns in the 1960s. Columbia and Charleston probably have a larger percentage of downtown wires above ground than any comparable sized cities in America.

When SCANA shed the Columbia bus system, part of the deal was that Columbia gets $500,000 per year for burial of wires. By contrast, Mytle Beach now gets up to $1.4 million annually from the Public Service Authority of SC for this purpose.

Columbia City Council is undertaking streetscape projects as funds become available. Circa 1990 the city was going to do Assembly from Gervais to Laurel at the time it did Gervais. The project would have resulted in the elimination of on street parking in the center of Assembly. After merchants complained, the city scrapped the project.

Now the city wants to build a parking deck on the 1300 block of Assembly resulting in the demolition of Star Music Co. and an adjacent building. Both are shanties by my standards.

The Historic Commission has declared historic status for these two eyesores. City Council makes the final determination. Mayor Coble, usually a visionary progressive, is feeling heat from preservationists in an election year. He has said the two structures should be preserved.

Presumably, construction of a parking deck to serve Main and Assembly could resolve the on-street parking issue such that Assembly could again be considered for streetscape.

I have hoped for 30 years that the wires on Assembly and other downtown streets would be buried. Assembly is a major gateway and it could be a beautiful boulevard with handsome trees in its center.

Downtown Columbia will not assume its rightful place as an emerging urban core as long as overhead wires and wooden utility poles blight the landscape.

What do you think it would take for Columbia to begin the process of burying the power lines in the downtown core?  I know this has been done on Gervais St, Lady St. (in process), 5 points (in process), Main St., etc.  However other areas such as Assembly, Devine, Blossom (and all around the USC campus), Bull, Elmwood, etc. are in dire need of the removal of the power lines.

Simply put, it would be a major improvement for the aethetic appeal of Columbia if this were to be done on as many of the streets as possible.

I know this takes time and money, but does it necessarily take a full "beautification project" in order for this task to be completed?

It seems the more ciites I visit the less power lines I see.  Why is this not the case in Columbia?  It is such a blight on a fair city IMO.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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