Eversource projects on the way
GREENWICH — The Board of Selectmen on Thursday approved road closures to facilitate two projects by Eversource Energy — repairs to prevent widespread blackouts like those experienced in September; and the start of construction of a controversial new substation on Railroad Avenue.
The repair work will cause traffic problems in downtown Greenwich on Monday and Tuesday. Parts of Mason Street and Bruce Park Avenue will be blocked as crews work above and below ground to install new cable and other equipment to forestall significant power outages like those that hit the town over two days of a heat wave in September.
The outages were the result of two underground circuits failing within 30 minutes of each other, according to the power company, which affected the utility’s Prospect Street substation and the customers it serves. The work will involve balancing circuits on Greenwich Avenue so too much strain is not placed on one.
“We’re looking to do the majority of the work at night to have the minimal amount of impact,” said Tracey Alston, Eversource’s community relations specialist.
First Selectman Peter Tesei questioned why the work was being done now when the downtown area is so busy for the holiday season. Alston said Eversource’s preference was to do it now before usage spikes later in the winter as people heat their homes.
Alston said the repair work likely will be done in three phases, future dates to be determined.
“Our engineers and (people in) distribution have gone through and assessed the area of that full feed to really look at if there were areas we could improve, upgrade or change out,” Alston said. “These will be phased approaches because this will be a long time and we’re trying to have the least impact to the residents and businesses in that area.”
Traffic next week will be detoured from the intersection of Bruce Park Avenue and Mason Street.
As part of the work, Eversource will also have to have crews out between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Monday morning at other downtown locations, including Havemeyer Place, Lewis Street and the YMCA. However work there will not require road closures.
The selectmen also gave unanimous approval to a series of closures and detours that will be needed for work to commence in January on the substation project. Under the current plan, the new substation will be built at 290 Railroad Avenue and then connected via underground transmission lines to the existing substation in Cos Cob.
The Connecticut Siting Council gave its approval to the substation over the town’s objection in 2017, prompting local officials to file an appeal last December. Settlement negotiations are ongoing; Tesei said he hopes a resolution comes before the selectmen soon.
“It’s in process and I think there are negotiations that have been ongoing with Public Works and town administration,” Tesei said.
On Thursday the Board of Selectmen approved a series of 11 road closures and detours that will be needed in the area, affecting Sound Shore Drive, Indian Field Road, Bruce Park Drive, Wood Road, Davis Avenue, Museum Drive, Steamboat Road and Railroad Avenue.
Closures will not take place all at once but will be scattered throughout the construction process, which is expected to last through 2019.
“We will be sharing the detours as they come up on the calendar,” Alston said.
The selectmen said it is important that as much information as possible be shared with the public.
“This is an area where we cannot overcommunicate,” Selectman Sandy Litvack said.
“Overcommunicating is really the mantra here, especially this time of year,” Tesei said. “You need to make all the stakeholders aware.”
Tesei said residents should get daily updates on the work whenever possible, and added it could be posted on the town’s website as well.