Town of Palm Beach News

Palm Beach Town Council Finalized Contracts for Underground Utilities

Palm Beach Town Council Finalized Approval of Contracts for Underground Utilities Construction  conversion, and are scheduled to begin work as early as this summer.

With an estimated budget of $90 million, underground work is expected to be completed in a total of nine phases, with all work anticipated to be completed in the year 2026. This past week, multiple ordinances were approved by The Town Council of The Town of Palm Beach to implement Phase 1 North, which will start by July 15, and to move pieces for creating a smooth transition into Phase 2 South, which will begin next year at the end of the first phase.

Phase 1 North will span from Palm Beach Inlet, through Onodaga Avenue and is expected to be completed over an 18-month period according to Public Works. All above-ground lines of power, phone and cable will be removed once the new underground utility system is powered up.

Burkhardt Construction was awarded a contract, totalling over $4.8 million for undergrounding, water-main and drainage improvements as a part of the first phase. 

At the close of the first phase, Phase 2 South work will begin, spanning from the Town’s south limit to Sloan’s curve. A contract for $7.9 million has been awarded to Whiting-Turner Contracting, for the installation of underground utilities, improvements to drainages and upgrades to street-lighting in those areas.

Palm Beach Town Council Finalized Contracts for Underground Utilities

According to Public Works, both contracts have been guaranteed at a maximum price, which means costs going over the approved price will be absorbed by the contractor; excluding any natural disasters, geological impacts or delays caused by restrictions related to presidential visits. Additionally, both contracts include a total of $445,000 town-controlled contingency funds, which will cover any expenses beyond the agreed pricing.

The project funds are through bank financing on a short-term basis, then by a bond issue of up to $90 million, to be repaid over a 30-year period.

With a close 3-2 vote, both contracts were approved with Council Members Bobbie Lindsay and Julie Araskog dissenting. Araskog provided three reasons for objecting to the North End project, citing: residents are displeased with construction, a large portion of the private-property easements are not secured, which could increase costs, and that it is premature to approve contracts at this stage. Believing unfinished talks with Florida Power & Light, AT&T and Comcast on finding ways to reduce project costs should be completed before entering into contractual agreement with contractors and utility companies. Lindsay, in agreement, stated the town will be giving up any leverage it may have had with the utilities.

In response, Tom Bradford, Town Manager stated he expects many of the holdouts will grant the easements once the Council approves construction. Public Works Director Paul Brazil, also stated with regards to the easements, that he“doesn’t anticipate a problem.”

Bradford, addressing the utility talks, said that Florida Power & Light is cooperating, but the town has no leverage with AT&T or Comcast.

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