Now that the widening of Highway 144 is slated to move forward, the Bryan County Board of Commissioners has agreed to pay Coastal Electric its portion of the cost to bury the power lines as part of the project.
Commissioners unanimously approved the issue Tuesday night after rejecting the idea last August and then tabling the matter.
Chairman Carter Infinger said the board intended to return to the matter at its September meeting but were sidetracked by Hurricane Irma. He also noted that when the Georgia Department of Transportation took the widening project off its 2018 list, commissioners were in no rush. Now that GDOT has said the project will indeed move forward this year, Infinger said it became imminent that the board address it.
The city of Richmond Hill approved the same plan last August. The county’s share will be $609,000, while the city will pay $420,000. The county will end up paying more because about three miles of the project are in the county, while two miles are in the city. Highway 144 will be widened from Timber Trail to Belfast River Road.
Coastal Electric will receive $165,000 from the Georgia Department of Transportation to relocate the existing power poles, but instead of doing that, the power company will split the cost with the city and county to bury the lines.
“The existing poles are in the current right-of-way, so the lines have to be relocated anyway,” Chris Fettes, Coastal Electric’s vice president for engineering and operations, told the city council last year. “This is an opportunity to do something that will increase safety, reliability and aesthetics.”