Dominion begins long-requested power line project along Nags Head causeway

Crews working to replace the poles damaged by Hurricane Dorian in September 2019. [photo courtesy Billy Copanezos]

Residents, business owners and local officials have been asking for years, and now their wishes are about to be granted, as Dominion Energy is ready to begin making changes to the power lines that run the length of the Nags Head Causeway.

Starting Monday, contractors will begin on Pond Island burying a cable to provide power to Roanoke Island and the Dare County mainland.

Then beginning in November, they will replace the wooden poles with metal ones mounted on concrete bases to carry the lines delivering electricity to the homes and businesses alongside U.S. 64 and on Pond Island.

The light poles are essentially large pine trees stripped of their limbs and bark and then treated with chemicals to keep them from rotting. The poles have been broken a number of times by high winds roaring across the Roanoke Sound.

One year ago, Hurricane Dorian took down more than two dozen poles between Whalebone Junction and the Washington Baum Bridge.

Dozens of contractors worked to replace the poles and wires damaged by Hurricane Dorian. [photo courtesy Twiddy and Co.]

“Dominion Energy has worked over the past year to engineer and develop a design plan that would mitigate this problem going forward,” said company spokesperson Rich Tran.

“This would greatly reduce the wind and pole loading contributing to the recent failures along the causeway,” Tran said.

“We are grateful for Dominion’s investment into reliable infrastructure on the causeway,” said Caroline Basnight, co-owner of Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe.

“Like our neighbors we have been negatively impacted several times over the last few years with the poles being snapped during storms,” Basnight said.

The top set of lines is the circuit that connects to an underwater cable on the eastern shore of the Roanoke Sound, sending power to Manteo, Wanchese, Manns Harbor, East Lake and Stumpy Point.

The sleeves (left) are for the concrete bases that the new poles (right) will be mounted on. They have been stored at an empty lot along U.S. 158 for the last several months. [Sam Walker photo]

“The bottom circuit will remain overhead on the steel poles to continue providing service to the homes and businesses along the causeway,” Tran said.

The replacement poles will be the same height as the existing wooden poles and installed in the same locations.

“No additional poles will be added as part of this project; however, Dominion will be removing five poles on the west end of Pond Island,” Tran said.

“We hope the new plan will alleviate the power issues in the coming storms. While we are so very grateful for this solution, we hold hope that one day in the future they will decide to bury the lines underground to avoid power poles altogether,” Basnight said.

The project is expected to be completed by next summer.

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Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach him at [email protected]