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Pawleys Island: Delay may extend town’s utility work into summer

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The start of a project to move electric and cable television lines on Pawleys Island underground is a month behind schedule, raising concerns about how much work can be done before the start of the summer tourist season.

The work was supposed to start Jan. 6, but the town was missing construction easements for three lots out of 78 that will be included in the first phase of the project. Two of those were signed and put in the mail last week, Mayor Bill Otis said. Once received Santee Cooper will establish a new start date within a week or 10 days, he said.

The state-owned utility is managing the $4.2 million project that will move the lines underground for 415 parcels and install a transmission line over the North Causeway. The first phase covers the portion of the island between the two causeways.

Santee Cooper is coming up with an estimate for how much time it will take to complete that phase, Otis said. He told the utility that it can plan to work on the causeways during the summer, if necessary. “I think council would be willing to go along with that,” he said.

Because portions of the island already have underground lines, the town created a voluntary project. Each property will pay $3,380 or $350 a year for 10 years. Bills went out last fall and over 80 percent made a payment. A quarter of the payments were for the full project cost.

The town doesn’t want to be in the position of collecting payments and telling owners that work won’t start until after Labor Day, Otis said. The town will pay $2.5 million of the cost, using funds collected through Santee Cooper’s franchise fee.

The hold up on the first phase has also delayed work on obtaining easements for Phase II, which will take in the area north of the North Causeway. “Those easements will go out in about 60 days,” Otis said.

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