A Salem neighborhood got a partial reprieve yesterday when National Grid announced it no longer plans to install an underground transmission line down Derby Street, a narrow roadway that runs through a downtown business district.
Not laying the new cable line on Derby Street could shorten by several months the time spent working on that crowded and busy street, according to state Rep. John Keenan of Salem.
“It’s good news in terms of it’s going to cost less and be much less disruptive to Derby Street,” Keenan said.
Derby Street won’t escape completely, however, since National Grid still plans to dig up the roadway to remove existing electrical cable lines.
No start date has been announced for this massive project, which some derisively call “Salem’s Big Dig.” It had been slated to start next year, but a National Grid spokesman was not able to confirm that start date yesterday.
The plans still must be approved by a state agency that oversees utility projects.
National Grid plans to replace two aging transmission lines with new high-voltage cables along a 1-mile corridor that extends from an electrical substation next to Salem Harbor Station to another substation on Canal Street.
The company says it wants to complete the work before a new power plant comes on line at Salem Harbor Station, which is scheduled for June 2016.
If there is cheering, or even polite applause along Derby Street, they are not happy around Salem Common, which now will bear the brunt of this project.
As part of yesterday’s announcement, National Grid said it plans to install both new transmission cables inside a single duct along a route originally planned for one cable. This route would go down Fort Avenue, over Forrester Street, along Salem Common, down Congress Street and through The Point and South Salem neighborhoods over to Canal Street.