Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

One reason infrastructure can cost more than it should: dis-coordination

In Washington, DC, Pepco's Capital Grid program is a billion dollar investment in "hardening the electricity transmission grid," adding lines underground, and upgrading and building new electricity submissions ("Pepco rolls out $720 million infrastructure plan to keep up with D.C.'s growth," Washington Post).

My neighborhood is affected. 

They have been "rewiring" transmission connections to switch parts of the neighborhood from one substation to another, because the other station will go off line for reconstruction. 

Apparently heretofore, these kinds of connections have been "hardwired" to a particular substation and so change isn't possible merely by pushing a button and changing connections within the sub-grid from one station to another.

What it's meant is that they've had to dig up a part of a neighborhood street, Peabody, and create new connections.  Now that they've done that, when they are ready to shut down the other station, they'll be able to make changes more easily (but I don't think it will still be a matter of pushing a button; they will still have to string line, but it will be able to be done within the new trenching that they have created).

Here's the thing: DC Department of Transportation repaved that street just a few months ago, in the last fiscal year.

They knew that Pepco would be doing the underground work.


But the timing and approval of Pepco's plans to tear up Peabody Street weren't congruent with DDOT's plan to repave it.  And DDOT's money for this type of street paving comes out of the annual budget and has to be spent the year that it is appropriated.

Repaving the 300 block of Peabody Street NWSo now the street that was repaved about six months ago is being repaved.

Why couldn't DDOT have suspended their plans for Peabody Street, and let Pepco pay for the whole thing. 

Couldn't DDOT have switched the use of the money allocated for the Peabody Street reconstruction to another equally worthy project.

Or could DDOT and Pepco have done this jointly and split the cost, saving money for both citizens and electricity customers who in this case are the same people?

Instead, both citizens and electricity customers will have to pay more money because of the dis-coordination.

One way to deal with this is to have contingency plans for the possibility of reprogramming within each fiscal year, if such utility projects are underway.

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At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The good news is that the elected officials with committee oversight of these departments will get double the political contributions from the contractors.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...



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