Letter to the Editor: A Concern about Potential Wire Problems at Fire Station Site

Submitted by Don Corey

The Historic District Commission’s action on the 139 Great Road (139 TGR) demolition application cleared the way for a new fire station to be built elsewhere years before one could be at 139 TGR.   Town officials working to overturn that decision remain seriously uninformed regarding long inherent delays and uncertainty regarding that site.  

The buried wires and utility poles at 139 TGR cannot be quickly dealt with.  The buried wires from Walsh Road to Bacon Road go through a vault in Great Road near the Bacon Road intersection and then through a conduit to the east utility pole at 139 TGR. From there the wires are shallowly buried along the frontage to the other poles at 139 and 133 TGR, where they are installed overhead. With the many wires and multiple wire owners, a new project to bring all the wires overhead at a new location would be as difficult and complex as the original one. 

There is no funding for this work, which could be up to $1 million. A site investigation of current conditions and a determination of what needs to be done are essential before plans and a cost estimate could be prepared. Upon funding, the south lane of Great Road would have to be torn up during installation of required infrastructure. This phase would take at least 3 years before wire owners could even commence work.

The site recommended by the Select Board for the fire station in March 2020 required no special effort by wire owners. However, 139 TGR would require substantial resources from wire owners for a long difficult project with absolutely zero benefit for them and their clients. There would be stiff resistance, with little or no priority given to the project by some.  A problem with “mystery” wires that remained after the original project was supposedly completed would almost certainly occur again; DPW spent months tracing where the wires went, what they were used for, and who the owners were. This phase would take 2 to 3 years at best.   

It is quite possible that 5 or 6 years from now some overhead wires would remain on the utility poles so the site would remain unusable for the fire station, with uncertainty whether it might ever become viable.  

It is critical that proponents contact every wire owner, Bedford’s own technical staff, and qualified consultants to understand the serious magnitude of this problem before proceeding further to overturn the HDC decision.

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The opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the writer, not The Bedford Citizen.

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Timothy Bennett
March 3, 2024 12:18 am

Notably, these concerns were brought up at the November Town Meeting by an abutter of the proposed site as part of the citizen’s petition to delay the process of constructing the much needed fire station. That petition was then soundly rejected, so there is no use in bringing up the same unproven issues time after time.

Robert
February 17, 2024 9:43 am

Your claims are nothing more than a red herring.
Folks who want the facts, please visit: https://www.bedfordma.gov/800/Fire-Station-Building-Committee

Marc
February 15, 2024 9:17 pm

I feel like folks keep tilting at windmills over utility wires.

The fire station folks have asked around; they have no knowledge of an underground vault.

Respectfully, either produce plans that prove there is a problem or stop bringing it up. Because when it comes to this sort of thing, the trustworthy source is the person with the blueprints.

And seriously, if you actually have proof, I’m certain that the fire station committee folks would love to see them to make the project better.

John McClain
February 15, 2024 2:30 pm

The site recommended by the Select Board in March 2020 was also several million dollars more than 139 TGR…thus making “up to $1 million” in costs for dealing with utilities a bargain. The building committee has looked into this issue, I trust them that they have gotten this right.

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