BGE upgrades come with a bit of inconvenience for East Towson

Just over a dozen East Towson residents turned out for the Monday, April 16, meeting with BGE representatives to learn about a facility upgrade project that officials say is bound to cause some inconvenience for residents of the Hillen Road area.

"When I found out about this project, I just thought the larger Towson community should know what's going on," said Councilman David Marks, who represents the 5th District, including Towson.

"Towson is a very well educated, very engaged community, and I think it's important to have meetings like this for large projects," said Marks, who arranged the meeting at the Country Club of Maryland.

The work, which will begin in mid-May and extend through mid-October, will begin with pole replacement and tree-trimming on both sides of the street behind the Stanley Black & Decker property on Hillen Road.

Karen McKinney, project manager for BGE, said it will primarily be work on the overhead lines coming from a nearby substation, and that wires will also be changed out to improve reliability.

Additionally, a manhole will be installed on Hillen Road where it meets Far Hills Drive in order to better serve the nearby reservoir pumping station. McKinney said road closures were possible while the manhole is being installed, but said the installation would "most likely" be night work.

Other work, such as the replacement of roadside poles, will result in temporary lane closures on East Burke Avenue and Hillen Road.

The project will also bring brief outage periods to customers, officials said. Residents will be notified in advance by mail if they are to lose power at any point, officials said.

The process of removing old poles came under question from a few residents, who said they have two in their yard from when the wires needed to be replaced after Hurricane Irene.

Bonnie Johanson, a community affairs manager for BGE, said after BGE replaced their lines, it was the responsibility of communications companies like Verizon or Comcast to move their wires as well, with the last one off removing the pole.

Those transitions can be conducted as quickly as two weeks after the new pole is installed, she said, or as long as several years.

Residents were weary about complications from the BGE work augmenting existing or upcoming projects, including construction of Towson Circle III and the ongoing work at the Towson pumping station.

Kurt Kocher, spokesman for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, said the work being done at the pumping station is being conducted to make the city's water supply comply with new drinking water standards.

He said the water is fine right now, but the new standards prohibit already-treated, ready-to-drink water from being kept in open-air containers — such as the reservoir.

Instead, the water will be kept in underground tanks.

"(The project) is about 60 percent completed," Kocher said. "It's supposed to be completed by Sept. 9, 2013, and there are also a number of miscellaneous facility improvements to be done there as well. It's well under way."

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