Watchung residents living near Oakwood Road may notice a better view, after PSE&G completes a project replacing the high-power line towers running along the road's west side with new, less-intrusive monopoles.
The project is set to start about Nov. 8, and should be completed by Dec. 16. According to PSE&G Regional Public Affairs Manager Rich Dwyer, the project will replace the current towers with 150-foot poles.
It's part of PSE&G's Reliability Project for the company's north central region. Upon completion, the company will be able to tansmit 230,000 KV through the lines, a 67 percent increase from the current 138,000 KV.
What residents may not notice, however, will be the actual construction work. Dwyer said placing the monopoles only requires digging a hole, lining it with concrete, then placing the pole.
The company requested permission to work on the towers on Saturdays if necessary at the Aug. 16 Borough Council meeting, and when council members asked how residents have reacted in other towns where the project is already underway, Dwyer said there haven't been any complaints.
"I can tell you this—in the other towns we're working in, we're working a lot closer to the homes than we will be in Watchung...and the residents have been very happy with the lack of construction impact," Dwyer said.
PSE&G's lines run on a right-on-way that travels through Watchung's east side, running parallel to Plainfield Avenue, crossing Valley Road just west of Oakwood Road, then traveling up and over the mountain and crossing Johnston Drive east of Camp Endeavor Road.
Dwyer noted the monopoles occupy much less area than the existing towers, which have a footprint as big as 25 feet square. The new poles will only require eight foot areas.
Dwyer received some unsolicited testimony from Borough Councilman Thomas Franklin, who said the company had already replaced a tower with a monopole near his property.
"The only objection I had was that it's raw steel, when they first put it up, it's shiny," he said, adding that shine disappeared after a bit of weathering. He did say there was very little noise or disruption with the work.
"It makes me feel good to hear Councilman Frankln just actually validate everything I just said," Dwyer said, setting up a quick retort from Council William Nehls.
"We don't believe everything he says, though," Nehls said.
The council approved the request for Saturday work, starting a 7 a.m.—although work will not actually start until 8 a.m. or later, Dwyer said.