A $500,000 price tag on potentially installing underground utility lines along Burleson Street was nixed by Kyle city leaders earlier this month.
The move followed negotiations between the city and Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) regarding the addition of the underground lines.
However, the Kyle City Council voted 6-0 to discontinue negotiations with PEC as the project would add on to the multimillion-dollar road project. Kyle City Council member Alex Villalobos did not vote as he was absent.
The money would have come out of the city’s bond capacity, which according to officials is nearing its limit. City Engineer Leon Barba recommended against it. Barba said the city only anticipated widening the road and performing “dry engine improvements,” but didn’t anticipate doing much utility work.
“There was (little) utility work that was going to be done on that project. Since then, we’ve added a major 12-in. water line. We’ve done some additional wastewater work. We’ve improved the scope of the project to where we’ve got a really nice project,” Barba said. “The one thing that nobody really through about at the time was to get rid of our overhead utilities. It takes a lot of time and money.”
As a result, city leaders opted to keep the existing above-ground power poles along Burleson Street intact. However, Kyle city council member Shane Arabie favored placing utilities underground.
“It’s not just to look pretty and not have poles,” said council member Shane Arabie. “Underground utilities are more stable.”
Arabie said the cost of moving utilities underground later could be significantly higher. However, the city has many other projects to consider with a limited bonding capacity. That could include a new police department headquarters in the future.
“There are so many projects,” said council member Daphne Tenorio. “They all need to be done and they all cost money.”
Construction on Burleson Street improvements will continue as scheduled. City officials estimate construction to be completed by early 2019.