PSE&G plans for high-voltage power lines suspended

CRANFORD, NJ — It could still be several weeks before local residents see a revised PSE&G plan regarding the installation of high-voltage power lines, after Conrail identified conditions that need to be evaluated before the electricity provider can move forward.

Mayor Patrick Giblin stated at the June 11 Township Committee meeting that PSE&G is currently looking into the feasibility of changing the planned route of 65-foot-tall, high-voltage utility poles, moving them away from residential streets to the Conrail freight rail right of way. All original plans for the poles have come to a halt, he said.
As part of its project to increase the electrical grid’s reliability, PSE&G plans to increase the lines’ capacity from 26,000 volts to 69,000 volts and connect seven of its substations in the region, according to a May press release from the company.

PSE&G spokeswoman Rebecca Mazzarella confirmed with LocalSource that the company has been moving forward with the beginning stages of the process but said the conditions are “both technical and commercial” and that the company will need a few weeks to evaluate them.

“PSE&G recently received a communication from Conrail highlighting several conditions that need to be evaluated in order to assess the feasibility of siting the facilities along the railroad,” Mazzarella said in a June 12 email.
PSE&G will be engaging its engineering, operations and real estate functions to perform a thorough analysis of the conditions identified by Conrail, according to Mazzarella.

Giblin said PSE&G has applied for a “right of entry” to allow the company access to the train tracks and begin the process of assessing the necessary work.
“Please know PSE&G appreciates the community’s patience while it undertakes this important analysis,” Mazzarella added.

No further details regarding the Conrail negotiations had been released as of press time this week.
on March 29, PSE&G announced a new proposal for Westfield, reworking the route of a similar infrastructure upgrade to satisfy residents angered by a previous proposal to run lines along South Avenue from the town’s border with Scotch Plains to its border with Garwood. The original plans, brought to the Westfield Town Council in February, called for a zigzag of lines on Scotch Plains Avenue, Shackamaxon Drive, Rahway Avenue, Grove Street, Central Avenue and Sycamore Street. And similar installations were completed more than a year ago in Union.

Also at the June 11 Cranford Township Committee meeting, officials gave a presentation regarding the municipality’s decision to move the annual Fourth of July fireworks display from the actual holiday to July 2, after multiple complaints from residents.

Matthew Lubin, coordinator of the township’s Office of Emergency Management, said the decision to change the traditional fireworks date was due to multiple safety concerns.

His office conducted a threat and management assessment of the event, which draws nearly 6,500 spectators to Nomahegan Park in a four-hour period for the display. According to Lubin, this “presents a significant challenge to our emergency personnel and taxes the preparedness of our local and county safety professionals.”

He added that there were multiple physical altercations between spectators during the course of the evening at last year’s display. Cranford Fire Department personnel had to respond on some occasions as law enforcement officers were committed to other incidents, he said.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to mitigate certain risks at the event in its current form. I’d like to note that the Fourth of July is a high-risk day from a public safety standpoint, and this event consumes resources to the extent that we’re protecting the rest of the township with minimal public safety resources,” Lubin said.
Changing the event to July 2 will enable the town to access additional county resources necessary to ensure the safety of spectators during this event, he said.

A local online petition was started through Change.org in order to pressure the township to revert the date to its traditional day after the change was first announced June 3.

“Every year thousands of people celebrate the independence of our great country together as one big Cranford family. This is one of the great family-oriented events that make Cranford so great. Changing the Fourth of July fireworks to July 2 causes Independence Day to lose its meaning,” the petition reads.
At the time of publication, the petition had more than 400 signatures.

The township’s Firecracker 4-Miler road race and canoe race remain scheduled for July 4.

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