Noe Valley Voice June 2004

25th Street Goes Underground
Three Blocks Say Goodbye to Utility Poles and Wires

Unsightly utility poles will soon be a thing of the past for a hilly stretch of 25th Street in Noe Valley. But first, local residents will have to put up with months of dust, noise, and traffic congestion.

In July, Pacific Gas and Electric Company will begin a yearlong project to install an all-new underground system of electric, phone, and cable TV wires on the three blocks of 25th Street between Church Street and Guerrero Street.

At the same time, the utility will replace the street's gas pipeline. This will entail removing decades-old steel gas mains and installing new plastic pipes. When construction is complete, PG&E will take down the old wires and telephone poles. The city's Department of Public Works will then install newly designed streetlights to replace the lights formerly affixed to poles.

"When finished, the street will be virtually free of utility poles and overhead wires, adding considerably to neighborhood aesthetics," says Jeff Joy, director of construction for PG&E's San Francisco and Peninsula division.

The project is part of the city's ongoing effort to update pipes and put utilities below ground. "[We're replacing] approximately 13 miles of overhead utilities with new underground facilities in San Francisco this year," says Joy.

Work crews will dig trenches on both sides of 25th Street, generally in the parking lanes. To minimize the inconvenience, they will do no more than 500 feet of trenching at any one time, Joy says. Prior to construction, PG&E will notify residents by mail and door-hanger notices.

Once the new underground facilities have been built, PG&E will coordinate with property owners to switch existing electric overhead service to the new underground system. This is the only interruption of electric service anticipated, and should last no more than a few hours. Similarly, once the gas pipes are converted, gas service will be shut off for a short time. PG&E will relight gas pilot lights as needed.

Joy says PG&E's portion of the $1.6 million Noe Valley project is expected to be finished in June 2005. SBC and Comcast--the phone and cable companies--are also involved in the project, and will be synchronizing the replacement of their wires with PG&E's and DPW's work schedules. Only after power is rerouted to the new underground utilities will the existing overhead lines start to come down. The last utility company to take down its wires will be responsible for removing the old poles, Joy says.

Meanwhile, PG&E and DPW are continuing to do overhead-to-underground and pipeline work on other streets in or near Noe Valley. The blocks that are directly affected are:

--Dolores Street from 20th Street to 25th Street; scheduled for completion in the fall of 2005

--24th Street between Church Street and South Van Ness Avenue; also to be completed by fall 2005

--20th Street from Church Street to Guerrero Street

--Liberty Street from Church Street to Valencia Street

--21st Street from Church Street to Valencia Street

These last three projects are all scheduled for completion before spring 2005. For more information, go to PG&E's web site at