CONWAY,SC (WMBF) - The end is near for one big project in downtown Conway: moving utilities underground.
The city plans to put 1,700 feet of power lines underground on Fourth Avenue from Kingston Street to Beaty Street. This means taking down the wooden poles and overhead wiring that have become an eyesore, so it helps make the city look nicer and it protects businesses and the city from losing power during a storm. Utilities that are underground are considered to be better protected and less vulnerable.
City Administrator Bill Graham says this is the last stretch of this project for the downtown area, a project that's taken over a decade. The Utility Project in Conway will take about two years total, with planning and doing the work, but when all is said and done, it will have a lasting impact on Conway.
The manager of The Trestle says businesses in Conway have already seen a difference along the stretches of road where the utilities have been moved. "It's really helped make downtown more attractive, especially to someone who has never been here who is visiting. When they walk the streets they see the beauty of the old buildings and downtown's personality," says Terry Bedell.
And while the city is moving the power lines, they're putting up street lights to add to the charm of the city. The total cost for the 4th Avenue project is $1.2 million.
The money comes from a fee Santee Cooper customers pay for projects just like this one. Santee Cooper also matches some of that cost.
The city administrator says that since the beginning of these projects, the fund has generated $8.2 million.
There is ongoing conversation with the city, when the Fourth Avenue project starts wrapping up, to start planning to move utilities underground on Highway 501. This will be a major project that will take several years, but it's all part of the long-term goal, to clear the skyline of all those wires and poles.
To save extra work in the future during any new construction, whenever new roads or buildings are put up in the city, it is a requirement for utilities to go underground.