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Jefferson Street power lines

Napa in 2014 approved the shift of utility lines on Jefferson Street between Lincoln Avenue and Trancas Street underground, but the City Council on Tuesday delayed a deadline that was to arrive at the end of this year, citing stalled progress after the South Napa earthquake.

Napa will allow at least two more years for a project that would move utility lines strung over Jefferson Street below ground – an effort stalled by an earthquake and staff turnover.

Pacific Gas & Electric power lines will no longer be required to be buried below the north-to-south Napa artery by the end of this year, as called for by a City Council vote in 2014, after the council voted last week to lift the deadline.

Instead, PG&E will be given three months to take down utility poles after wires are shifted below the street – a job not expected to be finished before the end of 2021, two years later than planned.

The council’s decision to “underground” utilities and remove power poles from Jefferson was made in May 2014, just four months before the South Napa earthquake and the resulting emergency repairs to city infrastructure pushed the project to the back burner.

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The departure staff members familiar with the project also made a 2019 completion date impractical, Public Works Director Julie Lucido wrote in a memorandum last week.

Undergrounding will take place along a four-lane, mile-long stretch of Jefferson that begins just north of Lincoln Avenue, near Napa High School, and extends up to a point north of Claremont Way.

PG&E is expected to pay more than $6 million to bury the utility lines under Rule 20A, a state program requiring power companies to set aside ratepayer revenue for that purpose.

Napa would be responsible for costs related to shifting the wiring for traffic signals, as well as creating conduits to serve a future stoplight interconnection system that would synchronize signals to reduce traffic delays.

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.