City to start major electrical work on Alma Street

Electric-line replacement may cause traffic delays

Major electric-line replacement in Palo Alto could cause traffic delays on Alma Street starting Tuesday, June 19, the City of Palo Alto has announced.

Existing 60 kilovolt electric lines -- the uppermost of the wires hanging between the utility poles -- are being replaced all along Alma between the Park Boulevard Substation and Encina Avenue. Some poles will also be replaced to better accommodate the new, larger-sized wire.

The older wire is being replaced with wire that is lighter, stronger and can carry more current, which means better service to all customers and added service to new customers, said Debra Katz, city utilities communications manager.

Work will take place June 19 through Aug. 18 and will be completed in sections. Only a few blocks will be disrupted at any one time, she said.

Northbound Alma Street will have some single-lane closures at different points. Some closures might occur during morning commute hours.

"We are trying to minimize the impact to commuters as much as possible, but the crews need enough time to make specific amounts of progress each day and do so safely," Katz said.

Power outages will also occur during the final stages of placing the new wire. It is necessary to shut off the power to the 12-kilovolt lines hanging below the main line to guarantee the safety of the workers, she said. The shutoff will happen twice, but not to the same customers.

Shutoffs will occur in mid-July and at the end of the project and will last about 10 hours. Most customers will be "back-fed" during these shutoffs and won't actually lose power. The few customers -- mostly along Alma -- who must be temporarily turned off will be notified individually well in advance, Katz said.

The line replacement is a Council-approved, budgeted capital-improvement project. It is being supervised by the city's Utilities Electric Engineering division.

Sue Dremann


Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2012 at 11:26 am

Oh, good! I was worried they'd missed one of the major thoroughfares for construction and disruption of traffic flow.

Let's see, 101 southbound, San Antonio Rd. East Charleston and now Alma.

Is the intent to keep us all home?

This brings new meaning to the phrase "You can't get there from here."

Really? Time management, folks!

Like this comment
Posted by E
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

Whatever happened to undergrounding all of PA Utilities? This would seem to be a good time to perform this task, if ever.

Also, it is interesting that the cross streets that are identified are on the west side of the tracks from Alma. Why not just say the approximate cross streets, so folks have some idea?

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Elizabeth: They didn't miss one but you did: East Bayshore at Embarcadero has one lane shut down in each direction for construction. Total gridlock there in AM/PM commute times.

Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Don't you all get it--this is the master plan of our traffic czar Jaime Rodriguez to get us to switch to bicycles--have all the major roads in Palo Alto go on a "road diet" (don't you just love that phrase!!!!--very Palo Alto)--then all the traffic will magically disappear and everyone will walk or bike around the city. Very simple.

Like this comment
Posted by whine whine whine
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm

If these old wires snapped and caused a massive power failure, people would whine about poor maintenance. The city is being proactive and people still whine. I for one am glad that the city is taking care of this now.

Like this comment
Posted by SafetyFor Community
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I agree with whine,whine,whine, but let's just keep plodding along and get it done.

Like this comment
Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm

City should give some free cheese to go with all the whining. If the power lines get done, then they are done. I have figured how to drive around most traffic delays that impact me with little or no problem.

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