San Francisco DPW Authorizes Study for Undergrounding Master Plan

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 directional boring.

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,, Anne Brubaker, Chair

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