Only a few poles, absent wires, remained in the Fort Langley core as a long-delayed switch to underground cabling neared completion. (Mathew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Underground, at last, in Fort Langley

Long-awaited elimination of overhead wires nears completion

Downtown Fort Langley is, finally, free of overhead power and utility lines.

Aaron Ruhl, Langley Township manager of engineering and construction services, said the work is close to complete.

“Street lights and some restoration work remains [to fill in the holes where the utility poles used to be] ,” Ruhl told the Langley Advance Times.

Plans call for ornamental street lights.

Coun. Eric Woodward, who was president of the Fort Langley BIA at the time the undergrounding was proposed, called it “fabulous.”

“It’s made a dramatic difference,” Woodward said.

Woodward called it “a great deal for the taxpayer” because it is being funded two-thirds by Fort Langley businesses over 20 years.

Eliminating the tangle of wires was not without controversy.

Approved in 2012, the plan to bury utility poles and wires in Fort Langley’s commercial core passed by a narrow 51.5 per cent of owners of property in the Local Area Service covered by the petition.

It was opposed by the Langley Heritage Society, which argued the wires may have been unsightly but they have never posed a hazard.

READ MORE: Underground wiring approved for Fort Langley

Other critics objected to the street-level transformer boxes.

An unsigned internal memo from the Township engineering division to council said the idea of burying the new boxes was raised by municipal staff with BC Hydro, which rejected the notion.

“BC Hydro advised that they will not allow the undergrounding of their transformer infrastructure,” the memo said.

READ MORE: Hydro says no to underground utility boxes in Fort Langley

B.C. Hydro agreed to allow decorative wraps on the new ground-level utility boxes in Fort Langley, provided the Township paid for installation and maintenance.

Construction took place along Glover Road, from Francis Avenue to the Jacob Haldi Bridge, Mavis Avenue from Queen Street to McBride Street, Mary Avenue from Queen Street to Glover Road and along the lane north of the Community Hall between Glover Road and McBride Street.

At the time it was announced, the project was projected to cost the benefiting property owners $3 million, and Township taxpayers $1 million

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A ‘before’ picture of the Fort Langley core with the power lines. (File photo)

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