Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Franklin, MA: Underground Utilities - survey

The facts:
  1. The Downtown Revitalization Project is funded by state and federal grants. It is not funded by local taxpayer money.  The grant funds are restricted to use in the Downtown District.
  2. Electric wiring near the bridge and that related to street lights along Main St will be going underground regardless as part of the streetscape work in the Downtown District.
  3. The additional stretch of utility wiring that is being considered for putting the utility wires underground is outside the Downtown District according to the grant funding. This area is from the bridge along East Central to approximately Simons Furniture store. This stretch is proposed to be paid for by surcharge fees from the utility companies and paid by their customers (ultimately those of us in Franklin).
  4. The ESTIMATED fees for the average residential customer would be a total surcharge of approximately $65-75. Because multiple companies are involved (electric, and two cable), the specific details on the timing of the surcharge remain to be worked out. The companies would spread the surcharge amount out over time to minimize the effect on an individual utility bill. We would see the minor increase in both the electric and cable bills. The surcharges are finite and will end after being paid in full.  
  5. Putting the utilities underground now is drastically cheaper than normal due to the proposed road construction.  If the utilities aren’t put underground now, it likely will not be considered until the next major road repair of the area (ideally decades from now).

The area already covered by the grant money is shown on the map in the light green. The area in question is shown in pink.

Additional information on the project can be found here:

The Downtown Improvement Project review meeting held on May 12 was broadcast and recorded for review here:

The poll question can be found in the center column on the top of the Franklin Matters web page. The question asks "Would you pay approx. $70 to put the utilities underground?" and takes a Yes or No answer.

Feel free to leave a comment here or send me an email.  The Town Council email addresses can be found on the Franklin web page here:

My thanks to Tina Powderly for help in crafting this posting.

Updated 8/29/10
The survey results were Yes - 22, No - 44.


  1. Would the poll numbers differ if there was a lesser (if any) taxpayer cost? What if the cost was the burden of the utility?

  2. Yes, I am sure if the cost were less the numbers would be different. The stretch of road is short and there are only a few poles involved. The amount (just over $1 M) does seem high for aesthetics.