Erasing obstructions - Work underway to underground utilities near community center

By Ruth Longoria

The view looking out on the water through the massive wall of windows along the east side of the new Community Center at Mercer View is expected to get a lot better.

The City of Mercer Island and its utility, cable and telephone providers -- Puget Sound Energy, Comcast and Qwest -- are deleting the offending obstructions that for years have marred the spectacular scenery.

The electric poles and corresponding wires began coming down last week. Underground utilities and telephone cables will be going in between now and mid-October along the Luther Burbank Park entry road on 84th Avenue S.E.

``When the work is completed, it should give better visibility for the community center,'' said Richard Aukerman, city project manager. ``It's something of a beautification project.''

Although traffic delays, road closures and detours are expected to impact area residences between now and when the work is completed by the end of October, the short planned power outages while the poles are replaced with underground utilities are expected to affect only the park, Aukerman said.

Three existing light poles will be left along 84 Avenue S.E.; however, the top 8- to-10-feet, above the light portion, will be cut from the 30-foot poles.

``The project is moving along right on schedule and Puget Sound Energy should begin their cable installation on Sept. 26th,'' Aukerman said. Power outages at the park and community center are expected several times during the month of October as the utility workers reconfigure the electrical, television and telephone lines.

That work is being done in conjunction with the city's already planned construction work on S.E. 24th Street. Much of that street was blocked off last week as trucks began street repaving and improvements and crews worked in and around the trenches that will house the new wire systems.

The repaving is part of the city's annual transportation improvement program, and was approved by the City Council earlier this year. In addition to paving the road, new shoulders for bicycles will be added to the roadway, new crosswalks will be added at 81st Avenue S.E. , and there also will be minor drainage improvements.

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