Why does it take so long to repair the streetlights on First Avenue in Prince George?

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BC Hydro Says Alberta Contractor Installed Wiring Infrastructure Failed to Meet British Columbia Electrical Code

Cheryl Mikulasik has been in the dark for too long.

She wants to know why the city took so long to complete a lamp post replacement project in the Heritage neighborhood to improve lighting on a section of First Avenue from Tabor Boulevard to Foothills Boulevard.

The city hired RGN Contracting of Edmonton to complete the $ 700,000 project and work began in August to replace 37 street lights with brighter, more energy efficient LED lights on new aluminum poles and upgrade the underground wiring that connects the buildings. lights.

The project was supposed to be finished by the end of October, but it looks like it won’t be finished until the end of November, at the earliest.

In an email response to Mikulasik on Friday from Greg Webster, a corporate account representative for BC Hydro, Webster said the work done in the past three months by the Alberta contractor does not meet the requirements. of the British Columbia Standard Code and that the project will take four to six weeks to complete.

“It’s dangerous because it’s dark early now and people are walking in the dark,” said Mikulasik, who lives on Bauch Avenue, which connects to First Avenue. “It’s very dark and when I’m driving, if there is no other traffic, I turn on my lights to see better.

“Everything seems to be going wrong in this whole project. On Friday, I found out that they were closing the road to First and Tabor for an entire month for a water project that starts Monday morning.

A sign posted on First Avenue confirmed that motorists trying to access the Heritage Subdivision along First Avenue will have to find an alternate route from November 1 to 30 as crews dig the street to make water repairs.

Frustrated by the city’s apparent lack of oversight on the project, after hearing from BC Hydro, Mikulasik emailed Webster’s response to the eight city councilors.

A few days ago, Mikulasik’s husband, Larry, stopped a skateboarder on the street at night dressed in all-black clothes to warn him of the danger of passing motorists.

“The only reason I saw it was because there was an oncoming vehicle,” he said. “I stopped, rolled down the window and talked to this kid and told him he was lucky I didn’t hit him because I barely saw him, and that’s because we don’t have street lighting. “

Marg Wilson lives on First Avenue, and she is dismayed that she and her neighbors are still waiting for the lights to be on.

“I didn’t think we would be without light for that long and that’s a danger,” Wilson said. “You have to drive at night with your headlights on and you can’t see people on the street and that’s a concern. Especially with Halloween, I hope parents avoid First Avenue because it won’t be safe.

“It has gone on too long, and what bothers me, is it going to come back to the taxpayers? Our taxes are high enough and living with no light all this time and paying the taxes that people are paying, I just think it’s wrong.

The street lighting project has caused a sensation since its inception. In August, residents of First Avenue had their lawns dug up to access utility lines and allow concrete work to replace curbs and install wheelchair-accessible corner sidewalks. The Alberta contractor hired a subcontractor to lay new sod on the soil patches disturbed for utility work and homeowners were dismayed when the sod was sodded over the existing lawns and wasted. been left sitting noticeably higher than the rest of the surrounding grass. Some residents have taken it upon themselves to dig the earth and even the grass.

In an August 30 Citizen article on unsightly turf replacement, city communications manager Mike Kellett said the situation would be resolved.

“The contractor who is working on this and installed the sod will be back and he will fix any uneven ground and make sure everything is flatter,” Kellett said at the time. “There are still four to eight weeks left in this project, so I encourage a certain level of patience.

“The operating instructions to the contractor were to replace this sod, which could replace it on bare earth with another type of lawn. So the contractor has laid the groundwork and expects it to grow in the coming weeks as the project progresses and parts that still fall short will be dealt with in a matter of weeks.

But that did not happen, and the uneven turf remains patchy over the existing lawn.

“Everyone has really nice lawns and suddenly they don’t,” Wilson said. “It was just stacked on top, without any care. They just threw the grass away.

The Heritage project is the first of many improvements to the district’s public lighting planned for the years to come. The city estimates that about 1,000 of its 4,700 street lights are nearing the end of their lifespan and will need to be replaced. Most of the existing street lights were installed in the 1970s and no longer meet city or provincial electrical code standards.

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