PSEG Long Island is in the final stages of removing 31 giant steel poles from a busy roadway in Eastport, three years after they were installed to howls of protest.
Power lines carrying 69,000 volts from the 82- to 90-foot structures have been placed underground during the first phase of the six-month, $12 million project, and are already energized, PSEG said. The top half of all the poles had been removed by cranes in recent weeks, including the final top section removed on Thursday. The bottom sections will also be removed but concrete foundations will remain in the ground, PSEG said.
An agreement to remove the steel poles came after the towns of Brookhaven and Southampton sued PSEG and LIPA over the poles, which they charged were installed without proper environmental review and town approvals. Local and state officials brokered the agreement to remove the poles on a 1-mile stretch of roadway in Eastport. About 200 additional steel poles will remain on about five miles on County Road 51, where they meet an existing power line to a Riverhead substation.
Some had called for PSEG to remove those poles as well, citing their proximity to the high-speed road and a fatal accident involving one pole two years ago. Many of the poles aren’t protected by a guardrail, but PSEG has no plan to remove them, saying they conform to their county permit.
PSEG has faced similar complaints about other tall poles along busy or bucolic roads in Port Washington and East Hampton, where a lawsuit is pending.
Royal Reynolds, president of the East Moriches Property Owners Association, said the Eastport roadway “looks better already” with the giant poles largely removed. But he added that “it’s unfortunate they didn’t just underground the lines in the first place.”
Reynolds said he still wants guardrails around the poles on County Road 51, which he said present a hazard, but thus far he’s been unsuccessful.
“There’s an obvious traffic safety issue,” he said. “It’s very dangerous.”