Work on eliminating overhead utility poles in downtown Fort Langley is about to resume following a shutdown of several months caused by a demand for design changes by BC Hydro and CN Rail.
A letter to area residents from the Township said construction will resume on Nov. 7.
“Thank you for your patience while construction has been under review and the contractor has been demobilized from the site,” said the message.
The pause of at least three months happened because BC Hydro and CN Rail wanted design changes.
The letter said since late 2016, “discussions have been ongoing between the Township, CN Rail, BC Hydro and benefiting property owners to gain acceptance of the revised civil works.”
In response to a Times query, the Township confirmed that the revisions included allowing above-ground electrical connections to private properties that would have trouble accessing a below-ground line.
CN Rail had concerns about running underground lines beneath its tracks and wanted seismic upgrades to the retaining wall at the heritage railway station.
The postponement is part of the reason why the sidewalk around the new Coulter Berry building on Glover has been left unfinished.
Completion of the building was held up because of a court battle involving the Township and opponents of the project.
That meant installing the underground conduits under the sidewalk was also delayed and before it could be carried out, everything was put on hold while talks with CN Rail and BC Hydro were underway.
The Township letter said all the remaining work, including the Coulter Berry conduits, will be completed over the next 11 weeks, weather permitting.
Once that is done, and CN Rail and BC Hydro have signed off, Hydro, Telus and the other utility companies will be able to start running lines through the underground conduits.
Following that, connections will be switched to the underground system and the utility poles and overhead wires will be removed along Glover from south of 96 Avenue to the Jacob Haldi Bridge, and on Mavis Avenue from McBride Street to River Road.
“The estimated schedule to complete the project is mid-to-late 2017,” the letter reads.
That is about a year behind schedule.
When the ground-breaking ceremony for the undergrounding project was staged in May 2015, the projected completion date was to be August of this year.
The $3 million project was approved by council in 2012 following a 51.5 per cent vote in favour by property owners representing 53.4 per cent of the assessed property values within the Local Area Service (LAS) region covered by the petition.
At the time, some Fort Langley property owners complained they were being unfairly forced to pay for the undergrounding because the system allows someone who owns multiple taxable properties to vote multiple times.
One opponent sent a email to the mayor and council calling the overhead lines “heritage telephone poles” that should be preserved as “a special reminder of the past.”