Utility work along Old Shell Road could result in the removal of trees and the replacement of sidewalks in the Village of Spring Hill community, an Alabama Power spokeswoman confirmed to Lagniappe.
Alabama Power will be replacing poles on Old Shell Road between McGregor Avenue and Bit and Spur Road, local spokeswoman Beth Thomas wrote in an email. The process will take a “few months” and will at least require tree trimming.
“The work includes tree trimming,” Thomas wrote. “Alabama Power trims trees regularly to protect the safety of our customers and our employees who maintain the power lines. Trimming trees also helps us as we work to keep electric service reliable for our customers.”
It’s unclear yet if tree removal will be necessary, however, Thomas wrote that if a tree does need to be removed, the company will work with the stakeholders, whether it’s on private property or in the public right of way.
“When trees on private property pose a danger to the public or our workers who maintain the power lines, Alabama Power works closely with private landowners to determine how we can best ensure that we provide a safe environment,” she wrote. “That may include trimming trees or even cutting down trees if that is warranted. Many times, we are able to offer options to a land owner so that he or she can decide what actions they prefer us to take.”
If a tree is on city right-of-way, Thomas wrote that the company works with the city on the removal.
“As it relates to trees in the right of way, Alabama Power works closely with municipalities on trimming these trees,” Thomas wrote. “In Mobile, Alabama Power works closely with the city’s Urban Forester and within the guidelines of the city’s tree commission.”
While the company might work within guidelines set by the company, Tree Commission Chairman Jesse McDaniel told Lagniappe, Alabama Power has a standing permit, active since the 1960s, that allows it to remove any trees in the rights-of-way it sees fit. While the commission would normally have to approve tree removal in rights-of-way, the permit allows the company to skip that step.
However, McDaniel said, Alabama Power does have a representative at each of the group’s meetings since he has been chairman. He said the commission was unaware of the planned work in Spring Hill.
In the email, Thomas confirmed that small sections of sidewalk where an old pole is embedded might need to be removed. The company will repair any sidewalks that are damaged in the process.
“In this particular project, we expect to remove poles that are adjacent to or embedded in the sidewalk and replace them with new poles,” she wrote. “As we perform this work, we will repair any sidewalks that are damaged in the process. For the safety of the public, small sections of sidewalk may be closed while workers are in the area.”
The work has already begun, Thomas wrote, and will result in the closure of a lane of Old Shell Road while each pole is being replaced.
“Our contract crews will be working as quickly and as safely as they can to complete this work,” she wrote. “Meanwhile, we encourage motorists to take an alternate route if possible or allow extra time when traveling in the area and please watch out for workers along the route.”
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