Newport: City Council planning to get rid of unsightly power poles along Highway 101 north of Highway 20
Newport City Councilors Monday voted to start the process of getting rid of unsightly overhead power, telephone and cable tv lines on Highway 101 from Highway 20 up to 25th. The city earlier undergrounded overhead utility lines on 101 from Highway 20 south to the bridge.
The first four pictures on the side shows the south of Highway 20 stretch to the bridge. No overhead lines. The next six down the page is what 101 looks like today from Highway 20 north to 25th.
Councilors were reminded there is a franchise fee fund with a half million dollars in it with the money earmarked specifically for undergrounding utilities. Trouble is, it will likely cost considerably more than that to underground utility lines clear up to 25th, according to one estimate. City Finance Director David Marshall said the city could simply borrow the remainder at today’s low interest rates, and pay the loan off with the continued franchise fee revenues – paying it off in less than ten years based on that income. Franchise fees are levied against the power, gas, cable and telephone companies who usually pass on the costs to their customers.
The council told city staff to contact the Central Lincoln People’s Utility District to ascertain the cost of the undergrounding of lines on both sides of 101 for the mile-plus distance. Also, they’ll need to establish an operating agreement between the city and the PUD for getting the work done. Marshall offered an estimate of the time it would take to complete the project – two years, but that’s after coming up with a design for the project. Marshall says he and Public Works Director Tim Gross will get together with the PUD and figure out what the next steps will be to get overhead lines off the main drag through Newport.