Duke Energy project construction put on hold, still causing complaints from area drivers

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Duke Energy has announced that its work on Bethel-New Richmond Road will be postponed until a tentative restart date of March 2019.

An email from Duke representative Sally Thelen explains that “all crews on this project have been moved to hurricane storm duty” in the Carolinas, because of Hurricane Florence.

The New Richmond internet community was still buzzing with complaints about the traffic jams caused by Duke Energy’s power line project on the Long Hill section of Bethel-New Richmond Road, despite an initial change in the construction schedule that was intended to appease area drivers.

The project involves rebuilding a 69-kilovolt transmission line from the New Richmond substation along Bethel-New Richmond Road.

Construction includes replacing some 20 wood utility poles with galvanized steel poles and other upgraded equipment, according to Thelen, part of corporate communications for Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky.

The project brought with it daily detours off Bethel-New Richmond Road to make way for construction equipment and to maintain safety to crews and the public.

While many online users have questioned the timing of the project, Thelen said that Duke Energy began meeting with the village and school district officials in February to figure out the best time for crews to work.

She also noted that the energy company needed to get through the hot summer months so that crews could do the bulk of the infrastructure improvement work during non-peak months.

Originally, road closures were set to take place each day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and again from 4 p.m. to dusk.

That schedule brought with it a lot of complaints about traffic jams as well as concerns about limited road access to emergency medical services.

Shorty after, Duke Energy agreed to move the schedule and work on Saturdays and Sundays, instead of Thursdays and Fridays.

However, it went unstated that there would still be detours and traffic flaggers on those days, which left a lot of drivers wondering if the schedule change had actually taken effect.

Now the issue is moot, as Duke has already dispatched its crews to the hurricane zone.

Thelen’s email indicates that “materials that have been laid down in the area will be cleaned up this week.”

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By Megan Alley

Sun Staff