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Estero Boulevard project prep work begins with FPL

By Staff | May 26, 2015

The lengthy Estero Boulevard Improve-ments Project has begun from a utility standpoint.

Before year-round road construction work takes place, Florida Power and Light must replace power poles to strengthen its facilities on Estero Island. That action kicked off Monday and is anticipated to continue throughout the rest of the year.

FPL officials say Beach motorists should expect delays daily during a 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. timeframe while traveling through portions of the boulevard through December. The first segment of pole replacement work is expected to go from Curlew Street south to just past Santini Marina Plaza and last until sometime in August.

While work will close down a traffic lane and the center lane leaving only one lane for two-way traffic to utilize in limited areas, one can anticipate new poles – stronger concrete poles replacing existing poles- and additional poles at select locations to improve service reliability related to severe weather. The process will involve setting new poles in the ground prior to any transfer of power lines. Once the new poles are installed, crews will begin transferring the utility lines over to the new poles and removing old poles.

“Generally, when we have these types of projects, the poles that are being replaced are still in position until the new poles are put into position,” said FPL spokesman Bill Orlove. “Then, we can transfer our equipment onto the new poles.”

Stops in service will be short, and FPL customers will be well-informed prior to any action.

“We are expecting only brief outages when we transfer the equipment, like the transformers, onto the new poles, but our crews will be working with customers in that area. Customers will be made aware prior to outages taking place,” said Orlove. “We will work at the customers’ convenience and make sure outages are as brief and convenient as possible.”

Some residents questioned why night-time work couldn’t be done. Orlove cited “safety” and “more efficiency” for the utility work to be done during daylight hours. Day work would also negate the use of night stage lighting, which may disturb sea turtle nesting.

In all, the first segment of work will involve the replacement of 48 poles.

This is the third year of a three-year program that FPL has undertaken with its customers state-wide. The Beach project is part of an overall $560 million upgrading of the electric grid, according to Orlove.

At last week’s FMB Public Safety Committee meeting, Estero Boulevard Improvements Project Manager Rob Phelan relayed the process will take some doing. Bonita Springs recently went through a pole replacement during night hours during tourism season.

“You have to take the actual new poles and lift them over the top of the existing pole lines to get them in place where you have to set them,” he said. “They are telling me it will take four weeks to set the poles in that first segment. “Once that is done, then they are going to come back with another crew to transfer all of the lines over to the new poles.”