To address questions and concerns about the planned $176 million Western Nassau Transmission Project, PSEG Long Island held three information sessions last week — including one at the Lynbrook Public Library on May 10 — that were attended by dozens of residents.
The project, which the Long Island Power Authority has approved, would add a new 7.3-mile, 138-kilovolt underground transmission line to the electric system, which would complement two 50-year-old cables now in use in the area between Garden City and Lynbrook. The new cable would not replace the old ones, but rather would add “redundancy” to the system to ensure that the lights would stay on if an old cable were to fail.
The new cable, which would power homes and businesses, would start at the East Garden City substation, which is actually in Uniondale, and stretch to the Valley Stream substation, which is in Lynbrook. It must be installed by 2020 in order to meet federal regulations.
“In this area in particular, we looked at overhead and underground alternatives, and there is no sufficient existing overhead right-of-way that would be practical to use without having impacts on homes and businesses,” PSEG Project Manager Debbie Aul said. “It’s just not practical, so the proposal is an underground route.”
The work, which would involve trenching to install underground copper cables that are coated in plastic sheathing, is expected to take place mostly in the Town of Hempstead, but the project could also run through the villages of Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, Valley Stream, Malverne and Garden City. PSEG has developed three routes. The preferred one would begin on Stewart Avenue in Garden City and extend to Merrick Road in Lynbrook.
The project would involve digging up roads along the route, and could cause traffic issues in certain areas.
Chris Norquist, a project engineer, said that PSEG divided the area into segments and scored each possible route based on the impact it would have on the environment, its social effects, such as traffic disruptions, and construction factors, such as having to cross the Southern State Parkway and Long Island Rail Road tracks. Then a computer program was used to determine the best course.
“The proposed route had the least impact,” Norquist said. “It’s the least length in general. As you add length, it adds more impact to more . . . residences and business owners . . . so that’s a big factor.”
Aul said that about 650 homes and businesses along the route would be affected. She added that the route would cross LIRR tracks twice: once on Franklin Avenue, between Broadway and Rider Avenue, in Malverne, and once on Cherry Valley Avenue, between 6th Street and Stewart Avenue, in Garden City.
At the three information sessions, in Garden City and Malverne in addition to Lynbrook, residents asked questions and received step-by-step information about the project. They also were able to type their addresses into Google Earth and see whether their homes were on the proposed route. And they watched a video that showed how the roads would be dug up and the cable laid.
PSEG filed an application for a Certificate of Environmental Capability and Public Need with the New York State Public Service Commission on Jan. 9. The PSC is reviewing the application and will host public forums and hearings on the project. It will either adopt or reject the proposal, as a whole or in part, or modify it.
If the route is approved, an environmental management and construction plan will be filed, outlining all aspects of the project. The plan will provide more detailed engineering information about the route, including the depth of the trench and which sides of the street construction will take place on. The PSC will oversee the project.
Construction is estimated to start in mid-2019 and end by the last quarter of 2020. Norquist said he expects the work crew to complete about 125 linear feet of trench per day, so he does not anticipate staying in any one community for long.
Given the magnitude of the project, PSEG spokesman Jeremy Walsh said, the utility wants to be as transparent as possible. Jeff Greenfield, a LIPA trustee, lauded the utility’s efforts. “PSEG is committed to outreach in the community prior to finalization of the project, and I’m glad they had the informational sessions with the community,” he said. “I look forward to hearing reports from them at our next trustees meeting.”
PSEG representatives will also speak with elected officials in the villages along the route. Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach said he met with PSEG officials in April and again on Monday. He expressed confidence that the project would not negatively affect residents.
“The planned path will cause minimal disruptions to residences along the path,” he said. “The plan will increase the power to the substation, and the poles will be more durable.”
The state Department of Public Service will host a public meeting on May 30 at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive Building, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola. An information session is scheduled for 2 p.m., followed by a public hearing at 3. There will also be sessions at 6 and 7 p.m.
To learn more about the plan, visit WesternNassauTransmission.com, email info@WesternNassauTransmission.com or call (516) 780-0665.