Cost estimates for Main Street undergounding still unknown

At a public hearing on Monday night, Town Planner Vera Kolias outlined the statutory steps the town would need to go through to get utility lines along Main Street buried undergound, and that road likely leads to a vote at the special town meeting next fall. But one big piece that’s missing right now is the cost of the project.

“The pictures look great, but it still comes down to how it’s done and what it costs,” Selectman Bill Boland said.

David Parry, co-chair of the Main Street Council, a private group leading the effort to underground the utility lines, said he hopes to have numbers by the fall. A feasibility study is in the works and the council has asked the affected utility companies for their estimates.

A timeline for completing the feasibility study has not been published, and that is frustrating some officials. Planning Board member Mary Hynes specifically called out the engineering firm hired by the Main Street Council, Tighe & Bond, for not providing better information on timing. “I think Tighe & Bond should do their job and come up with a timeline, or multiple timelines, for when we’ll get answers.”

David LaPointe from Southborough-based landscape architecture firm Beals and Thomas, who was also hired by the Main Street Council, said communicating with the utilities is “a process we have to work through. It’s not that Tighe & Bond aren’t doing what they’re supposed to. They are.”

“We know the road ahead to get us to town meeting in the fall and beyond,” Donald Morris, vice-chair of the Planning Board, said. “The Main Street Council is hopefully working toward that fall meeting.”

There will be more talk about undergrounding along with the larger Main Street construction project at another public meeting tonight at Cordaville Hall (Senior Center) starting at 7:00 pm.

Related stories:
What Main Street could look like
Light blight on Main Street
Going wireless on Main Street

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