TREASURE ISLAND — Frequent power outages on Isle of Capri and Isle of Palms should be a thing of the past by the end of the year.
That is when Progress Energy hopes to complete underwater and underground installation of a new power cable that will run nearly a mile from the St. Petersburg mainland.
Four power cables running under the Intracoastal Waterway are supposed to bring power to Treasure Island's homes and businesses.
Three of the cables were replaced during the past five years. But the fourth, which is about 40 years old, doesn't work anymore.
"The new cable will improve load capacity and main power supply to the area," Progress Energy representative Jerry Faustino told the City Commission last week. "This is going to be a big improvement and has been a long time coming."
He said some of the power outages in the city were caused by overgrown trees, squirrels and faults in the underground cables. Those causes have been fixed, according to Faustino, and the new cable will further "improve reliability."
The cable will run overhead from the utility's power substation in the Jungle area along 22nd Avenue and 74th Street south to the Treasure Island Causeway, where it will continue about 3 feet underground.
The 20-inch pipe containing the cable will dip 133 feet into lime rock below the seabed of the Intracoastal Waterway along the centerline of the two bridges, then continue underground on the causeway to Gulf Boulevard and then north to 112th Avenue, where it will connect to overhead power lines.
Installation of the overhead cable in St. Petersburg began in May and is expected to be completed by August.
Permits and easements from the state and federal government are expected to be in hand by August, as well.
The original route of the older cable cannot be used, Faustino said, because of stricter environmental regulations. The original cable was "plowed into" the seabed.
Different portions of Progress Energy's plans to bore below the seabed and bore under the causeway and Gulf Boulevard must be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Transportation.
Underground and underwater borings on the causeway, under the Intracoastal Waterway and on Treasure Island are scheduled to begin in September and be completed by November.
Construction will take six to eight weeks to complete.
Faustino said Progress Energy hopes to negotiate with the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club to use part of its parking lot to stage equipment.
Sand and rock from the underground borings must be stored until dry before it can be transported to a landfill. Faustino said the borings will create a 42-inch tunnel into which the pipe and cable will be inserted.
During construction two travel lanes on the causeway — one westbound and one eastbound — will be closed to traffic, he said.
Construction will begin about 7 a.m. and continue until 6 or 7 p.m. six days a week until the project is completed. There will be no work on Sundays, Faustino said.