A Pepco infrastructure upgrade slated to start in June is finally set to begin now that Greenbelt officials have concluded a months-long review of the project.
The reliability enhancement project is now set to begin in September, Pepco officials told about 40 Greenbelt residents and officials at a Wednesday meeting. The project will replace more than 58,000 feet of wiring, 536 utility poles and service wire drops to more than 1,000 buildings.
Announced in December, the project has been stalled by a review process from the city and Greenbelt Homes Inc. — the cooperative that owns 1,600 of the city’s historic row houses — seeking to ensure that all tree-trimming is necessary and that private property is not adversely affected.
“Every single tree that was going to be removed has been evaluated,” said Celia Craze, director of planning and community development for the city.
Trees slated for removal are marked by orange or red dots, and the number 547, according to Craze. Trees that will be trimmed are not marked.
A power line running though Buddy Attick Park was slated to be replaced and the trees around it removed, but after working with the city, Pepco project managers found the lines were redundant and could be removed by making other changes in the system.
For some Greenbelt residents, the hundreds of trees still being lost are a blow to the city, which takes pride in its 62 percent tree cover.
“Five hundred trees?” resident Mary Ann Canter asked Pepco officials at the meeting. “I really object to that.”
Pepco officials said they will give the city and Greenbelt Homes Inc. about $10,000 total to replace the lost trees with species that would be better suited to grow near wires.
Others were more worried about whether the project will actually improve reliability.
“I just really hope this works,” resident Chris Shuman said, noting that he thinks reliability is a major problem for historic Greenbelt.
Outages in Greenbelt are “frequent and long,” said Pepco public relations manager Tammy Watkins.
Part of the upgrade is to change out the old wires with “tree wires,” which have a coating that prevents small branches and animals, like squirrels, from causing outages. New poles in some places will also be 5 feet to 15 feet taller to clear trees.
The project is expected to take about nine months, finishing in the early summer of 2013. Pepco officials said Greenbelt residents can expect some disturbances, such as four-hour power outages and sidewalk and road blockages while changes are being made.
An email address — email@example.com — has been set up to receive concerns from residents related to the project.