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Longboat Key Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 1 year ago

Underground electricity coming to south end of Longboat Key by January 2021

Longboat Key plans is to have its underground utilities project finished by the end of 2022.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The first phase of the town of Longboat Key’s $49.1 million underground utilities project is nearly completed.

During the Dec. 14 town commission workshop meeting, Town Manager Tom Harmer discussed when electricity would flow through underground cables to homes on the south end of the island.

“I know one of the things the mayor and I have talked about is when is that first house going to be turned on in Country Club Shores?” Town Manager Tom Harmer said. “Hopefully, the lights won’t flicker on the island when we do that, but then we can celebrate because we’re getting closer and closer to that opportunity.”

Phase one extends from the southern end of the island to the Country Club Shores neighborhood and into the Longboat Key Club.

“I understand there is a date for [when] the champagne is going to be popped now for Country Club Shores?” Mayor Ken Schneier joked.

Longboat Key projects manager James Linkogle said the town is hoping final conversions happen the week of Dec. 28. The start of the phase one, switch-order process with Florida Power & Light began on Sept. 11.

“We will let all of those residents know ahead of time once we finalize the exact schedule as to which streets will actually be energized and which group of homes will start,” Linkogle said. “We’ll make sure we have some sort of celebration for sure.”

Remaining phase-one work includes Comcast setting vaults, and pulling coaxial and fiber cables along Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Longboat Key project manager James Linkogle demonstrates how homes in the Country Club Shores IV North neighborhood will use the undergrounding work for utilities. FPL is scheduled to remove its poles in January 2021.

The town street lights for phase one are ordered. Installation is scheduled to happen after FPL begins its pole removal process in the new year.

In May 2019, town commissioners decided the pole heights along Gulf of Mexico Drive cannot exceed 35 feet. The height restrictions cannot be higher than 25 feet in neighborhoods. The poles are also “smart capable” for potential wireless and cell phone carrier enhancement.

Harmer has confirmed the town has had conversations with private companies that could use Longboat Key’s new infrastructure to offer its services, though no firm deals have been made.

Phase two and phase three of the project are happening simultaneously.

Phase two of the project is nearly completed, Linkogle said. It extends from the northern tip of the island to Dream Island Road.

“We do have our FDOT permit to now install all of the fiber and streetlight conduits in the Gulf of Mexico right-of-way in phase two,” Linkogle said.

Linkogle said the town was still receiving materials for phase three, which goes from Country Club Shores to the county line. Work along Gulf of Mexico Drive for phase three of the project is expected to start in January 2021.

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

Linkogle and CDM Smith consultant Mark Porter said the project has cost the town less than originally budgeted.

“We’re anticipating early this spring to get the final phase four cost estimates from FPL,” Linkogle said. “We anticipate that to be under budget as well.”

As of Dec. 14, 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.

The town plans to have the underground utilities project finished by the end of 2022.

A map provided by the town of Longboat Key shows the different phases of the undergrounding utilities project.


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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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