volume 65 - issue 1 - january 2015
First phase of streetscape project in Solomons is near completion
SMECO began the process of removing the overhead lines in Solomons and burying them underground in June 2014 as part of the Solomons Streetscape project. It has long been a priority for Calvert County government and the many businesses on Solomons Island to have the utility lines buried along the streetscape in order to enhance the aesthetic appeal of one of Southern Maryland’s top tourist locations. While these streetscaping aspects are important, this project will also increase reliability because SMECO will be burying a main distribution feeder line that is oftentimes hit the hardest when tropical storms strike.
Calvert County is planning to build sidewalks from the Calvert Marine Museum to Alexander Street. SMECO has coordinated its Streetscape project with Calvert County’s efforts to minimize the impact on the landscape, Solomons’ residents, and visitors to the island.
The project is occurring in three phases, and SMECO is nearing the completion of phase one. Phase one includes installing 20,000 feet of conduit where the lines for SMECO, Comcast, and Verizon will be housed. SMECO contractor, Riggs Distler, has been tasked with installing all the conduits for the three utilities. Riggs Distler has completed about 90 percent of the conduit installation along Solomons Island Road, from the area just north of Lore Road to Alexander Street, near the Our Lady Star of the Sea church—the main corridor of the island where the Calvert County government plans to install sidewalks.
SMECO is transitioning its overhead lines to underground by pulling cable through the new conduit, from just north of the visitors’ center to the intersection of Sedwick and Alexander Lane. To date, SMECO has pulled 21,000 feet of three-phase underground primary cable and 4,900 feet of secondary underground cable. Comcast and Verizon will also pull their lines through the conduit after SMECO completes its cable installation. Once this is completed, the utility poles will be removed and the cooperative will begin installing streetlights in coordination with the sidewalk project. These new pedestrian streetlights will match the style of the existing lights on the island.
The cooperative has also installed a new underground three-phase loop on the grounds of the Calvert Marine Museum. The museum and grounds were fed from two separate lines: the museum from the line on Solomons Island Road, and the nearby concert stage from the Lore Road line. Connecting these services in a redundant loop will improve reliability.
The first phase of the project is predominantly residential. Once the main lines are completed, SMECO will begin transitioning the lines that feed homes in this section. Homes that already have underground service will have their lines relocated to new transformers.
Phase two will carry the project from Alexander Street to the split at Patuxent Avenue and Charles Street. Phase three will complete the island past the split. Preliminary design work is underway for the second phase.
Many organizations are working together to make the project a success. The Calvert County Government is working with SMECO to secure the permitting required and coordinating closely with the cooperative regarding plans for the sidewalk installation. Many current and former Calvert County Commissioners and other elected officials have also been instrumental in the progress of the project.
The cooperative also appreciates of the support of the landowners along the route, the Solomons Civic and Business Associations, and Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, who granted additional right-of-way to install equipment to support the underground system.