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There is no simple process by which undergrounding can be made possible.      There are a lot of steps that need to be undertaken; plus the lobbyists for the utility companies have made sure there are many hurdles that must be undertaken to make it possible.


This basic Q & A is the best way to approach the subject and answers most of the questions queried by the uninitiated.

When considering undergrounding lines; Massachusetts General Law is the first step.     It outlines the responsibility of the community, the state and the utilities and provides the procedure to bring it into reality.


Legal advice should also be sought to make sure each player knows what is required.

This covers every aspect of undergrounding and the advantages of doing undergrounding in the city.       Newburyport now owns the lights and should free them from the slavery of old 19th century telephone poles.


Enhancing property values and the general desirabiity of a community plus the increased safety of these dangling wires now securely below ground are just some of the benefits that Newburyport can look forward to achieving.


Why does downtown Market Square look so good?       It is because amongst other historic elements such as brick, colonial lights and signage; there is a profound absence of telephone and utility lines.


Just like historic preservation, Newburyport was also at the forefront of undergrounding.       Mayor Byron Matthews achieved this from basically lobbying his friend in Massachusetts Electric.    








Undergrounding is the most comprehensive and effective method of reducing the visual impact of utility wires.  Undergrounding is the act of removing utility poles and burying wires and equipment in conduits or pipes.  Undergrounding utility wires is common in countries famous for their scenic beauty such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and Great Britain



The biggest challenge to undergrounding wires is the cost.  Estimates for utility burial can range from $500,000 to $3 million per mile, in comparison to $120,000 per mile for the erection of overhead lines.



The cost is so high because of the expense of burying the utility wires in conduits, which is the best method of burying wires to ensure reliability and facilitate repairs.  Coordinating the burial of several utility wires, such as telephone and cable television wires that also use poles, is another expense.  While it is possible to bury cables directly in the ground, this technique makes it more difficult and time consuming to locate problems and make repairs.



However, communities can manage the cost of undergrounding by:


Timing the project with other utility work, such as gas or sewer line replacement; consolidating high voltage lines and burying only low voltage wires;

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