“I still think it’s a bad plan, and it’s going to be very expensive,” said Mary Madore, a Salem Common neighbor.
The utility said it made this significant change after further engineering studies indicated there would be enough room under the streets along the Salem Common route to install a duct large enough to hold two transmission lines.
This new preferred route will mean “less intrusion into the community and will be a more cost-effective way of completing the project that will shorten the excavation period along Derby Street,” National Grid said in a press release.
While saying she “welcomed” yesterday’s unexpected announcement, Mayor Kim Driscoll said this is still going to cause disruptions in the city.
“Today’s update is good news for those along Derby Street,” she said, “but it still means our businesses and residents (along the Salem Common route) will experience some level of disruption for two to five weeks at some point in the next couple of years.”
There are others who criticize National Grid for not pursuing a water route under Salem Harbor to avoid both residential and business neighborhoods. The utility said the water route, using a technology known as horizontal directional drilling that would go deep under the harbor bed, is too expensive and would be too difficult and costly to repair.
One local businessman accused National Grid of considering its own financial interests above the interests of Salem residents and businesses.
National Grid is “simply driven by bottom-line economics at the hands of a hard-nosed, British-owned group ...” said Michael Harrington of the Hawthorne Hotel, which is located along the proposed route.
Behind the scenes, opponents to National Grid’s plans have been working on a ballot question that they hope to put before voters in November. No details have been announced.