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Longboat Key Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 10 months ago

Cable switchover delays launch of underground power

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The phase one, switch-over process is now expected finish by the end of January.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Some of the switch orders from aerial electrical services to underground haven’t happened as quickly as initially anticipated on the south end of Longboat Key, town official say.

Longboat Key projects manager James Linkogle and Public Works director Isaac Brownman explained why during a recent town commission workshop meeting.

Linkogle said Comcast's transition from aerial transmission cables to the company's new underground service for cable TV and internet service hadn't taken place as expected. The switch, which would be heralded by a three-hour overnight outage, is now expected this week. 

Late last year, Linkogle said the town had hoped final conversions would happen the week of Dec. 28 on the south end of the island.

Brownman said the switch-order process requires multiple layers of Florida Power & Light as well as work with the town and an independent contractor. He also said he was reluctant to provide more home conversion dates, but anticipated for the phase one, switch-order process to be done by the end of January.

“We’re still aligned with our master schedule,” Brownman said. “We just got ahead of ourselves in optimism to share dates that we just were not able to hit. We do apologize for that.”

The start of the phase one, switch-order process with FPL began on Sept. 11.

Town Manager Tom Harmer said the town is scheduled to complete phase one of the project by March 31.

“They are still within the dates in that schedule,” Harmer said.

Mayor Ken Schneier told Brownman and Linkogle the Public Works Department has done a “great job” on the “enormous undertaking.”

“I’m not sure the communication was unclear from you to us as much as maybe your understanding of what the process was at the FPL side, and that concerns me,” Schneier said. “I just hope that you will figure out before communicating clearly to us what exactly the background details are so that we don’t represent to people in the community certain things that we just don’t know can happen.”

Work on phase two of the project continues from the northern tip of the island to Dream Island Road.

“We’re in the northeast quadrant of the Village areas as we speak,” Linkogle said of phase two work. “We’re progressing as rapidly as anticipated.”

The town is in the process of receiving materials for phase three of the project from Country Club Shores to the county line. Phase three work is scheduled to start by early February, Linkogle said. It will start no later than March.

Phase four goes from Dream Island Road south to the county line.

Linkogle said the town has not used any contingency funds for phases one and two of the underground utilities project, which costs $49.1 million.

As of Jan. 19, Longboat Key’s negotiations with FPL came in under budget:

  • FPL Phase One: $460,078.93
  • FPL Phase Two: $185,612.87
  • FPL Phase Three: $1,238,872

The town’s negotiations with Frontier and Comcast have come in at $185,294.22 under budget to similarly install underground communications cables in separate but parallel conduits away from FPL electricity cables.

Linkogle said he anticipates showing additional savings from Frontier and Comcast the next time he presents to commissioners.

Longboat Key plans to have its underground utilities project finished by the end of 2022. 

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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