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SDG&E begins undergrounding, reconfiguration project along Via De La Valle

A new transmission line will go underground along Via De La Valle.
(Courtesy)

Work has finally begun this week on SDG&E’s long-planned Del Mar reconfiguration project, a new underground transmission line along Via De La Valle and the removal of utility poles from the San Dieguito Lagoon.

The entire project includes the permanent removal of 35 poles and approximately six miles of existing overhead transmission lines between Via de la Valle and Sorrento Valley Road near Interstate 5.

The reconfigured poles that will remain in the corridor will transition from transmission to distribution poles—the top level of wire will be removed and the poles will be cut and shortened.

“We will be able to increase the reliability and capacity of the electric system as well as the distribution system and that’s primarily because we’re eliminating those poles that are in the lagoon area that are very difficult to get to and they make it challenging to perform operations and maintenance,” said Kelli Fitzgerald, project manager with SDG&E. “By doing that we’re also reducing the environmental impacts to these coastal wetland areas as well as improving the overall aesthetics.”

The project will last 12-14 months and is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2023. SDG&E delayed plans to start the project last year due to concerns with the Breeders’ Cup at the nearby Del Mar Racetrack.

As Via De La Valle serves as a major thoroughfare for Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Del Mar residents, SDG&E will perform all work during nighttime hours from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in an effort to minimize impacts on traffic.

“There will still be impacts because we will have some road closures and detours during that time,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re doing our best to work with the various communities that will potentially be impacted and get the word out so that we can complete the work and try to minimize the time that road would have to be affected.”

Fitzgerald anticipates that the first three to four months will have the highest impact to the road and traffic as they will be building trenches in the road—steel plates will cover the trenches during the daytime and once the trenching is done the road will be filled back in. She expects this work to be completed by May.

The second phase of the project will be along Racetrack View Road/San Dieguito Road, a much smaller stretch of about 1,600 feet that will take less time. Work is expected to begin on that phase in August, moving poles out of the lagoon and onto the circuit along the road.

Fitzgerald said she doesn’t expect this work will involve full road closure or detour as they will be able to keep one lane open. There will be traffic delays but she said the work will be much shorter, about three to four weeks.

Phase three of the project includes pole removals and reconfigurations and work from Jimmy Durante Boulevard through Sorrento Valley Road.

“Our goal is to get it done in the first couple months of next year,” said Fitzgerald, targeting a February 2023 finish line.

This project is separate from another undergrounding effort in the San Dieguito Lagoon near El Camino Real. In that Caltrans and SANDAG project, seven poles will be relocated out of the lagoon into an existing SDG&E corridor. The work also includes a habitat restoration and a new trail at the northern loop of the Dust Devil Nature Trail on El Camino Real.

The City of Del Mar is also undertaking its own utilities undergrounding program.

For any reconfiguration project questions, contact Todd Voorhees at tvoorhees@sdge.com or call the project hotline at (844) 765-6388.


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