LIPA cable project to be complete within a month

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | LIPA workers moving pipe into the tunnel at Crescent Beach to run under the bay bottom to Southold for a new electrical source for the Island.

If there are no unforeseen problems, the Long Island Power Authority will have completed its work and cleaned up the sites on both the Shelter Island and Southold Town sites within three to four weeks.

The reward for Shelter Islanders is that if the single existing cable breaks, they shouldn’t expect to be left in the dark. That’s what they were facing after superstorm Sandy broke a backup cable, leaving the Island with one old cable from Southold and a cable from North Haven that lacked the capability of serving all the island’s electrical needs.

There were delays and detours in the area of New York Avenue or Shore Road Friday on the island. LIPA workers started pulling pipes along the roadway and into the tunnel where they would be dragged under the bay bottom to Southold.

The process of slowly pulling the pipes through the tunnel — expected to take at least 24 hours — is the reason for the detours. Because the pipes were being pulled taut, workers were concerned that one could break and fly up causing injury to anyone going by the site.

There are also a number of cranes and other heavy machinery moving around the site.

As the crew prepared the pipes to enter the tunnel Friday morning, they used a “cradle” to lift them so the proper angle for entry could be achieved. The pipes also had to be flooded with water to keep them from rising up in the tunnel and causing friction, according to the workers.

Plans called for the pipes to be stretched through the tunnel to Southold. The next step calls for stretching the electrical cables through and connecting them at both ends and then testing to assure the current is working properly.

“Pulling of the conduit is a huge, huge milestone,” said Nick Lizanich, LIPA vice president of transmission and distribution. “They can only pull so fast.”

When that’s completed, the following couple of days will entail cleanup of terminals at both ends and then pulling electrical cables through the tunnel.

That should take about two weeks, Mr. Lizanich said. The good news for neighbors on both sides of the project is that the operation after this weekend will become much quieter and the digging equipment that has been in place will be moved out while large reels of electric cabling are moved into the area, he said.

Once all the connections are made, tested and secured, LIPA will begin the process of environmental cleanup and restoration, Mr. Lizanich said.

There have been glitches along the way, including drilling that twice proved inadequate before the workers were able to create a workable tunnel. Last week, there were some equipment breakdowns that delayed the process of feeding the pipes through the tunnel, he said.

But watching the work Friday morning it appeared to be going smoothly.

As for businesses in the area, there were detours to reach Sunset Beach, the Perlman Music Program campus, La Maison Blanche, Camp Quinipet and various residences in the area. But a few hikers and bikers found themselves faced with longer treks back to their starting lines Friday morning because of the road closings along Shore Road.

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