Big milestone reached in Santa Rosa's Coffey Park burn area

- Just over a year after the devastating North bay firestorm, and seven months after construction began, the underground gas and electric line have been restored to Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood, and two others soon to be.

Christa Gatti and her family are moving into a carbon copy of the Coffey Park home they lost during the historically destructive fires. She learned Friday that PG&E has now fully rebuilt and activated the underground power and gas lines that melted in the fire. However, PG&E is not a favorite topic in Coffey Park because of the damage that so many neighbors are going to have permanently. 

"Whether their houses burned down or not, there's a lot of animosity towards PG&E because everybody feels they're gonna hike up the rates to pay for this big mess," said Ms. Gatti

That said, since April more than a hundred PG&E workers spent 75,000 hours completing the underground utility system rebuild. By the numbers, in Coffey Park, 17 miles of trenches dug, 22 miles of electric power lines and transformers installed and 10 miles of new gas lines installed and pressurized.

In Larkfield and Mark West Estates, four miles of trenches dug. The installation of eight miles of underground electrical lines will be done by mid next week. There are no gas lines because those neighborhoods use propane.

The work, originally scheduled to be completed in late December is two months ahead of schedule. "We promised the community that we would be done by the end of the year, so we're happy to say we safely and quickly finished the job," said PG&E Spokesperson Deanna Contreras. 

But it will be a while before the tall temporary power poles are gone. "We have put up temporary power poles to provide power and for people to rebuild, for the contractors to have power to rebuild and also to provide temporary street lights," said Contreras.

Still to be done, sometime in the future when there's a lot less heavy construction equipment around, the repaving of the roads PG&E dug up during many of its excavations. That's a lot of territory that will have to be repaved in conjunction with the City of Santa Rosa. 

"So you'll see contract crews repaving and replacing where we dug," said Contreras.

Another sure sign of progress: Requests for 3,400 hookups have been completed in Sonoma County. Even the temporary construction yard at Coffey and Dennis Lanes, is again a clean, empty field, where wildflower and grass seeds are planted.

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