Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Mayor Jim Newberry announced earlier this morning that the power lines will be buried for the Newtown Pike Extension/Gateway project.
Also present at the news conference were Council Member Tom Blues, Council Member Doug Martin, Council Member Peggy Henson and Vice Mayor Jim Gray who said “the real credit goes to the citizens” for the citizens for “insisting that we do it right.”
Asked if citizen input had an impact, the Governor responded “absolutely.” Asked why it took so long for the issue of buried utilities to be raised, the Governor responded, he “wasn’t around” when the project planning began.
Shevawn Akers submitted this comment at http://www.aceweekly.com last Wednesday in response to Ace’s coverage of last week’s Council Work Session, “Historically, we have been a city that acts without considering the repercussions of our actions. Building subdivisions and developments without considering how these will affect other governmental systems: utilities, sewer/drainage, schools, trafficâ€¦ Itâ€™s only AFTER THE FACT that we are forced to manage these after-effects, building new schools, widening roads, overhauling sewer systems and, ultimately, raising taxes to pay for all of it. I hope that our current Council will take this opportunity to think AHEAD, for once. Buried power lines are a proven cost-saving measure, despite the initial costly investment. Now is the time for vision, foresight and courage. What legacy do our Councilmembers want to leave behind for future generations? A primary corridor (Newtown Pike extension) filled with utility poles and power lines obstructing the horizon or a landmark sight that causes other cities to take pause and emulate our design? I urge our Councilmembers to remain steadfast and not waver on this issue. This is OUR Lexington. We cannot allow those in state government to dictate the future of this city. It is OUR responsibility to ensure that Lexington remains one of the most beautiful cities in America. FYI – I have buried power lines in my neighborhood. In nearly EIGHT YEARS, I have NEVER lost power for any length of time, including the two ice storms of 2009 and 2002â€¦”
Aerial utility lines has been a source of contention for weeks. (See recent posts.) While the original drawings were free of overhead utility lines, transportation engineers explained (slowly) to Council Members in recent weeks (when asked why the drawings didn’t show utility poles) that this wasn’t a matter of deception, or conspiracy—that it wasn’t their job to put those lines into concept drawings. It didn’t mean the lines would be overhead, or that they would be underground—it simply wasn’t addressed.
Questions then lingered as to WHY it wasn’t addressed, as it’s a significant budgetary item. KU is obligated to relocate the lines by the cheapest method available. Anything more, and citizens would be on the hook for the dollar differential.
Transportation officials told the press that equipment would be moved into the area tomorrow morning (Wednesday August 26) so that “grubbing and clearing” could begin.
Governor Beshear thanked the citizens who drew attention to this matter.
Council Member Tom Blues reiterated the point, thanking the citizens for “holding the council’s feet to the fire” on this, and singling out architects Clive Pohl and Graham Pohl, along with Van Meter Pettit of Town Branch Trail.