Why Schaumburg might pay extra to bury power lines between major redevelopments

  • Schaumburg officials are considering paying the extra costs to bury power lines along Meacham Road between Algonquin Road and Thoreau Drive.

    Schaumburg officials are considering paying the extra costs to bury power lines along Meacham Road between Algonquin Road and Thoreau Drive. Eric Peterson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/6/2020 8:17 AM

Along with the major redevelopments on both sides of Meacham Road between the I-90 tollway and Algonquin Road in Schaumburg, village officials now intend to bury power lines in the area.

A coincidentally timed road improvement at the intersection of Meacham and Algonquin is driving this expensive opportunity, rather than the ongoing work at the Veridian development on the former Motorola campus to the west or the village's planned entertainment district to the east.

 

"It makes sense from an aesthetic perspective," said Trustee Brian Bieschke, who chairs the village's transportation committee. "This part of Schaumburg is slated to be a showcase."

The full village board next Tuesday will consider the transportation committee's unanimous recommendation to make a $55,909 down payment to ComEd toward the design of burying the lines from Thoreau Drive near the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center north to Algonquin Road. This is 10% of the estimated total cost of burying the lines.

If officials ultimately decide to go ahead with burial, the village would be responsible for the entire cost, Schaumburg Transportation Director Karyn Robles said.

The alternative to burial would not be the status quo, but modifications raising the pole height and probably requiring lines to hang above the roadway to avoid interfering with a cell tower on the southeast corner of Meacham and Algonquin.

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The village expects to use funds from that area's tax increment financing district to pay for whatever project emerges from ComEd's study. A more detailed and accurate cost estimate is also expected.

The village previously has invested in the burial of power lines along Schaumburg, Roselle and Wise roads when maintenance projects made the timing right, Mayor Tom Dailly said.

"It just looked terrible," he said of Schaumburg Road before that change. "The whole thing was: Let's make our community look better. You're not going to get a cheaper time to do this."

A further benefit, he said, is the service improvement from power lines no longer vulnerable to bad weather.

Nevertheless, he was on the losing side of a 4-2 vote in 2016 that rejected burying the power lines along Plum Grove Road between Higgins and Wiley roads by adding $3 per month to residents' electricity bills for five years.

The TIF district expected to fund the Meacham Road improvement works by having frozen the amount of property taxes local governments receive from it at the level of its first year. For 23 years after that, any increases in the district's property taxes go into a municipally held fund for public improvements.

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