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Vegetation Cutback on MLK Jr. Drive

Vegetation Cutback on MLK Jr. Drive
A contractor will be cutting back vegetation along the north side of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, between Franklin and Jefferson streets to prevent damage to critical infrastructure in the City of Allentown.

The wooded area contains the path for two, 13,000 volt PPL transmission circuits. These circuits not only feed main and back-up power to the Water Filtration Plant, they also feed power to the 9-1-1 Communications Center. In addition, a fiber optic cable runs through this wooded area from the Communications Center to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. This fiber feeds city network connectivity to facilities at Bridgeworks, the Recycling Bureau, the Streets Department and Mack South Fire Station.

In the past 20 months, several storms (Irene, October Snow, and Sandy) have brought down large trees along this stretch of Martin Luther King Drive. This, in turn, has pulled down the electrical circuits causing extended power outages to the Water Filtration Plant and the Communications Center. During Hurricane Sandy, the trees brought down both the main and redundant feeds to the Water Filtration Plant in addition to damaging the city fiber optic cable. Repairs in some instances took days to complete during which the Water Filtration Plant was unable to produce drinking water. The city asked its customers to conserve water. At one point during Sandy, the city was within a day or two of running out of water. During previous storms, both the Water Filtration Plant and the Communications Center were without power for extended periods of time (more than 12 hours).

Despite some vegetative remediation by PPL in its right-of-way, it falls to the city to address the real threat of down trees, which extends well beyond the PPL right-of-way. Monies were allocated this budget year in Water Resources for the city to take immediate action to remove the remaining trees that could bring down the power lines and fiber optic cabling during a storm condition.

This project involves removing the larger trees in the aforementioned area, 100 feet back from the roadway.

The $42,600 contract has been awarded to Jaflo Inc. of Orefield. Work is expected to begin on Monday, August 19, 2013 and take four weeks to complete. Work will be done Monday through Friday during daytime hours.

No traffic disruptions on MLK Drive are anticipated until perhaps the third week of the project. The traffic disruptions will be in the form of single lane closures with active traffic control between the hours of 9am and 3pm along MLK Drive from Franklin Street to Jefferson Street.

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