By Christopher J. Russo, City Manager
(Tuesday, April 25, 2017) – Though not a very glamorous topic, the Collins Avenue Utility Undergrounding Project is of vital importance to our beautiful, and fast growing City. The goal is to install above-ground utilities into underground conduits. The reason for this is to harden our infrastructure against hurricanes and other disasters, while beautifying and improving our streetscape. It has been a plan for this City since 2000, and will be accomplished in phases over the next two and a half years.
The first phase commenced in April 2016. This work included the placement of conduit, access locations for faults, handholes and splice boxes used to pull the new wires underground. We also installed concrete utility equipment pads along and across Collins Avenue and the adjacent sidewalks on both sides of Collins Avenue. Approximately 211,200 linear feet of conduit, ranging in size from 2″ to 6″ diameter, has been set in a trench down under the roadway and sidewalk. Lateral trenches and directional borings were utilized to cross the road and sidewalks to facilitate future service points (residences, commercial businesses and public service facilities and parks). The utility providers, which will place their wire conductors in the conduit, include Florida Power and Light, Comcast, Atlantic Broadband, Hot Wire, and AT&T.
Mindful of how this construction would inconvenience our residents and visitors, we have made every effort to ensure the first phase would be completed as quickly as possible. To that end, we have worked during nighttime hours to lessen traffic impact. I am pleased to report that the conduit underground installation was achieved in record time. The project met the required contractual substantial completion deadline on March 20, 2017. Several miscellaneous activities remain to be completed with spot lane closures at night and daytime activities. We anticipate a completion date by the end of May 2017.
The next step of the project will address the roadway and sidewalk conditions. Temporary road and sidewalk repairs, replacements of curbs and gutters, and landscaping replacement have accompanies the utility work and is still in progress. A repaving project being accomplished by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will commence this summer and will rectify the patchwork currently in place on Collins Avenue.
The next phase of undergrounding will commence shortly along the Atlantic Blvd. corridor from 175th Terrace north to 191st Street. This work will be accomplished during normal daytime hours with special exceptions. This phase of work will continue for roughly one year.
The City Commission has approved expediting another phase, which is the Collins Street Lighting Enhancement project, inclusive of the replacement of lighting along the roadway with attractive light poles that will be able to accommodate future Holiday decorations. This will extend over the entire length of Collins Avenue from Haulover Park to Golden Beach. The project will be phased to accommodate the FDOT paving project. 110 of an anticipated 130 new light poles and fixtures will be set over the next year. Once all overhead utility wires are converted to underground, the balance of street lighting will be completed.
We understand the disruption this project has and will cause for a little while more. We sincerely thank all our residents and those who travel through our City for your continued patience and understanding while we work to complete this very complicated, but worthwhile capital project. The result will be a safer and more beautiful Sunny Isles Beach.