The project to bury utility wires includes portions of roadway...

The project to bury utility wires includes portions of roadway on Second House Road, seen here on Nov. 4.  Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The view of the horizon across the Atlantic Ocean will be free of obstruction when driving into Montauk thanks to a $750,000 intergovernmental plan to bury power lines along the roadway.

The overhead crisscross of wires could be gone by the end of 2022, making way for a sweeping sightline along Route 27, according to Assemb. Fred W. Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), who secured state funding.

Longtime Montauk resident John Keeshan had for more than a decade advocated to open the landscape at the entrance to the hamlet’s downtown, something he said is unmatched by anything else on Long Island. He describes a visit to Montauk as the New York version of a drive along California's Pacific Coast Highway.

"It’s a little bit of Coney Island, a little bit of Carmel [California]," he said. "And that’s what makes it special."

State grants and money from East Hampton Town will fund the plan. It will cover 2,240 linear feet and includes portions of roadway on Dearborn Place, Second House Road, Montauk Highway and Old Montauk Highway, according to PSEG Long Island.

The project was met with a positive reception that was "all Mother’s Day and apple pie," said Keeshan, who is also a real estate agent. "Everybody was in favor of doing this."

But finding the funding proved more difficult as community ratepayers usually pay for such projects.

It typically costs two to three times more money to bury utility wires than to construct overhead lines, said PSEG spokeswoman Elizabeth Flagler who did not provide specific figures.

A $250,000 state grant will jump-start the funding, with a second round of money expected next year, Thiele said. East Hampton Town officials said the town will contribute an estimated $250,000. Thiele and East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc announced the initiative last month.

"Placing the utility lines underground will significantly enhance the scenic vista at the gateway to Montauk," Van Scoyoc said in a news release. "Increasing energy resiliency by safeguarding our electrical supply lines underground is a critical step, in line with the town’s overall coastal resiliency goals as we work to mitigate the increasing effects of climate change."

Improved aesthetics are the main benefit of putting wires underground, but they also result in fewer wind and lightning outages than overhead lines, according to PSEG. They also don’t require regular tree trimming. Underground lines, however, are still susceptible to flooding and may take longer and be more expensive to repair.

There have been several phases of a project to bury other nearby sections with private money. The most recent, a 3,000-foot section of Old Montauk Highway from Washington Avenue to just before Montauk Highway, was completed in May, Flagler said.

Both Van Scoyoc and Thiele noted the project would not have happened without Keeshan’s dogged commitment.

"He had the vision for this project and never gave up," Thiele wrote in an email. "His persistence was the difference in making this happen. The project will be a part of his legacy and will be enjoyed by future generations who enter Montauk."


2,240 linear feet of overhead wires will be buried underground, creating an unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean from Route 27 in Montauk.

An initial $250,000 state grant, an anticipated second state grant in 2022 and money from East Hampton Town will fund the $750,000 project.

It bolsters a similar project to bury nearby overhead lines funded through private money.

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