Elgin Street going wireless as part of big dig

Hydro wires will run underground along Elgin Street as part of the busy strip's new makeover, city officials said Monday.

Burying hydro lines to cost $3.1M after pole replacement plan scrapped

The first phase of Elgin Street's reconstruction began March 12, 2018, between Waverley and McLeod streets. (CBC)

The City of Ottawa will bury hydro wires under Elgin Street as part of an ongoing project to redesign the bustling downtown strip.

A 12-block stretch of Elgin Street is undergoing a dramatic overhaul, including improvements to its utility infrastructure, some of which dates back to 1874.

The long list of planned upgrades included replacing hydro poles along the street, which have reached the end of their lifecycle, according to a memo to the mayor and councillors from Alain Gonthier, the city's director of infrastructure services.

Planners ran into a hitch when they realized the new geometry of the road would require a complicated support system to anchor new wooden poles, however. After exploring, then abandoning, the possibility of sturdier concrete poles, the projects design team, along with Hydro Ottawa, has decided to bury the hydro lines instead of stringing them overhead. 

"Hydro Ottawa has also expressed public and worker safety concerns related to the overhead servicing," Gonthier wrote. "The pole locations would not provide sufficient line clearance from permanent structures and buildings."

Burying wires to cost $3.1M 

Hydro Ottawa has estimated the cost of burying the wires at $3.1 million, of which the city-owned utility will contribute $1.9 million. The city will pay the remaining $1.2 million, which can be absorbed by the overall project budget of $36.3 million, according to the memo.

Major construction is due to begin in January 2019, and with it the full closure of Elgin Street from Gloucester to Isabella streets.

The road is scheduled to be reopened by the end of 2019, with final touches due in 2020.

A redesigned Elgin Street is scheduled to reopen to traffic by the end of 2019. (City of Ottawa)