BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — National Grid announced yesterday that it will release its study on the feasibility of installing high-voltage transmission cables under Salem Harbor.
The announcement came on the eve of tonight’s City Council meeting, at which councilors are expected to consider a request to place a nonbinding referendum question on the November ballot seeking public support for the underwater cable route.
National Grid rejected horizontal directional drilling, the technology used to go under the harbor, earlier this year after concluding a study, contending it would be too costly and too difficult to repair.
Residents and business owners along the street routes where National Grid plans to install new cables insist a harbor route is feasible and demanded to see the study. They also circulated a petition this month with the proposed ballot question, which has been submitted to the council.
The utility has to replace transmission cables between electric substations on Canal Street and the Salem Harbor Station power plant on Fort Avenue. The construction project is expected to last as long as two years and cause major traffic disruptions.
A National Grid official sent a letter to City Council President Jerry Ryan yesterday outlining the reasons they rejected the underwater route and announcing plans to release the study within two weeks. The company also said it will hold a public meeting on the issue in late August.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.