In March of 2019 the San Francisco Department of Public
Works signed a contract with Telamon Engineering Consultants, Inc. for a study
to lay the groundwork for a master plan to underground overhead utility wires
in the city. Funds for the study, approximately $125,000, came from an add-on
to the City budget successfully advocated by the San Francisco Coalition to
Underground Utilities (SFCUU) in 2017.
The goal of this study is to prepare for a master plan to
capture the utility undergrounding process, to ensure effective management of
the undergrounding resources, and to identify potential steady funding sources
for a citywide program to run for the next fifty years.
The initial study
marks the “Design Fee Proposal and Design Schedule” phase. Its scope of
services is divided into five major tasks:
- Project management
- Initial program assessment
- Public outreach and participation support
- Prioritization and implementation strategy
- Preliminary master workplan and funding plan
At a March 28 meeting with the community-based SFCUU, representatives
of Telamon Engineering explained that the project should identify what needs
attention — especially paths to funding —
and explore technologies available, including subsurface mapping and
Work within this scope of services has begun and is ongoing.
A preliminary meeting with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is
contemplated, to gain their input on the contract completion process. The
contract is estimated to be completed by the end of September.
Although this is a positive first step to creating a master
plan, it does not commit enough time or resources for a complete study. So the
next steps well may be either extending this contract further and/or funding
contracts for other parties to continue the investigation forward.SFCUU is continuing our efforts to
secure sufficient funding for a complete Master Plan that will set the City on
a path to complete undergrounding of San Francisco’s utility wires.
For further information, contact: SF Coalition to
Underground Utilities, email@example.com, Anne Brubaker, Chair
Our State Legislature is near passage of SB649: This bill will remove funds from San Francisco’s annual revenue. It will take control of our Public Right of Way development review and the development affect on our neighborhoods.
and if you wish to be heard, email your state representatives:
The SFCUU is pleased to welcome two new members to their Steering Committee. Carlin DeCato of McLaren Ridge will be our representative for District 11and and Peter Sommers of Cow Hollow will be representing District 2. We are always looking for new volunteers to carry the work forward. If you are interested contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look What San Diego Is Doing!
The city of San Diego has in progress a Utilities Undergrounding Program, currently relocating approximately 15 miles of overhead utility lines underground throughout the city each year.
The program is funded primarily through a 2003 California Public Utilities Commission approved undergrounding surcharge of 3.88% on San Diego residents’ electricity bills.
SFCUU members Steven Edwards and Randall Brubaker were recently welcomed to a visit in San Diego with James Nabong, Utility Undergrounding Program Manager, City of San Diego. Among other subjects discussed, Mr. Nabong reacted positively to our suggestion that a representative of the City of San Francisco might some day wish to also visit San Diego, to benefit from the experience and knowledge on this subject that now exists there.
From our short visit we learned several other points of interest, including:
1. Undergrounding work in San Diego is now being done by private contractors other than San Diego Gas and Electric. They are putting the work out for bid by qualified contractors.
2. The contractors doing the work are using both trenching and directional boring (trench-less technology). They are experts at both techniques, and use the most appropriate method in each project.
3. San Diego is in progress of refining their master plan from what they have learned since this program began about 12 years ago. Mr. Nabong offered that they would be willing to share with us what they have learned. This is a fantastic opportunity for San Francisco to benefit from the experience of another city. Hopefully our city will take advantage of this!
It may not actually be necessary to dig trenches everywhere on streets to be undergrounded. A technology known as “directional boring” or “trenchless technology” is in use in many places in the world to put pipes, wires, etc. underground with minimum disturbance to the street surface. Here is an example where a pipeline for BEER is being put underground using such technology.
Belgian Beer Pipeline