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Utility lines: to bury or not to bury? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 12 October 2016 19:40

While running lines underground is desired, village officials await cost of project before taking action

The Village of Belgium is waiting to hear from We Energies what it would cost to bury its utility lines along Main Street.

That would be one element of the Main Street reconstruction project the village expects to start next year.

“The board has to decide if it’s financially feasible to do so,” Village President Vickie Boehnlein said after Monday’s Village Board meeting, at which she provided an update on the reconstruction project.

The board had discussed burying the lines before. It’s aesthetically more pleasing, safer during storms and makes it easier for farm equipment to travel down the road, officials have said.

“But without knowing the dollar amount it’s hard to commit to anything,” Boehnlein said.

The estimated cost to bury the lines has been $1.5 million. If the updated cost stays consistent, Boehnlein said it’s likely the board could approve the move.

Burying the lines would be discussed by the Public Utilities Committee and Finance Committee before reaching the Village Board. Boehnlein said she welcomes public input.

“It certainly would be nice if the public came and gave input on that,” she said.

The reconstruction project is slated to cost about $6.9 million. The state is paying 80% and the village and county are evenly splitting the remaining 20%, meaning each would pay $690,000.

Thanks to some debt falling off, the village may complete the project without a tax increase, Boehnlein said.

But if the village decides not to bury the lines, it would have to redo its lighting plan.

The Village Board in June selected decorative lighting as part of its reconstruction project. The cost is $601,221.

Black light posts will be 24 feet tall and each will have a six-foot arm that overhangs the street.

The more decorative poles light the sidewalks better while the others light the streets better, Boehlein said. To her, the sidewalks are more important, she said.

Boehnlein compared the decorative lights to the ones in Cedar Grove, which she said offer good lighting and look better than the less expensive options.

On Monday, Boehnlein said six appraisals have been completed on property the village plans to acquire for the project. The village is waiting to hear if the appraisals are approved.

Single Source Inc., a real estate firm in Milwaukee, did the appraisals. By law, another company must determine if the appraisals are fair. Southern Wisconsin Appraisals is working on that.

“Other than that, we are in a holding pattern,” Boehnlein said of the board’s decision making on the reconstruction project. “There shouldn’t be much more coming up for the board.”

The project will limit parking along Main Street.

From the west village limits to Elevator Lane, parking would be allowed on the north side of the street only. From Elevator Lane to Oak Street, parking would be allowed on both sides of the street. Between Oak to Lar Ann streets, parking would be on the north side only. No parking would be allowed on a one-block stretch from Lar Ann to Highway LL.

Limited parking is planned because of the addition of a five-foot bike lane, required because the project is partly being paid for with federal funds.

The village’s first payments on the project are due in 2018. Since repayment of some other village borrowing ends in 2017, the village will carry a slightly lower debt service, about .2%, in 2018, including the Main Street project.

Work is scheduled to be done in 2017 and 2018.

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