Dozens of bumpy patches on the roadway surface leading out of Key Biscayne are going to stay uneven for the next three months, according to information from Florida Power and Light provided to village officials.
The patches are part of a project to upgrade electrical service to Virginia Key and to an unclear extent, Key Biscayne, officials said. The utility ran into problems digging a trench to a substation at the north end of the village, said Public Works Director Jake Ozyman.
“The water table was so high that they could not physically place the pipe. So they had to get the water out of there. And that’s why they put all those tanks and everything on the entry block,” Ozyman said.
Next, the contractor, TB Power Creation, will start pulling new wires underground, but Ozyman said that phase of the work should not disrupt traffic. He said the utility has told the village that repaving should take place around April.
TB Power Creation and Florida Power and Light both declined to answer questions about the cost, scope, or purpose of the work, despite repeated requests. Commissioner Raquel Regalado said she’d been told the primary purpose was to accommodate electrical upgrades at the County sewer plant on Virginia Key.
The area’s electrical grid, officials said, requires a connection to the Key Biscayne substation near Calusa Park. But there is no word on whether the work will make the substation more hurricane resilient, nor is there any clear indication it would support the Village’s planned utility undergrounding project.
Undergrounding Project Moves Forward
Last week, the Village Council set the stage for the next step of the utility undergrounding project by making a budget amendment to fund what’s known as a “binding cost estimate,” an important preliminary specification that is part of the utility undergrounding process. It also allocated funds for surveys and undergrounding work at the Paradise Park site and the area around the K-8 school.
FPL’s overall estimate, however, will not include the cost of burying telecommunications services such as phone, cable, and fiber optic lines. The power portion of the binding estimate is expected to cost about $130,000, said Village Manager Steve Williamson. He said the utility should have the estimate ready in two or three months.
An earlier overall estimate for the entire undergrounding project, including telecommunications, came in at $46 million before a change in state law caused the Village to pause planning for the project in 2019.
Some of the cost will now be borne by utility ratepayers, but financing details are still being developed.
As for the roadway bumps, Ozyman says the Village is trying to persuade FPL to repave the entire northbound stretch of Crandon Blvd., rather than working patch by patch.
NOTE: This story has been updated with additional detail.