Published: Apr 28, 2011 6:02 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 28, 2011 1:55 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla.-- A project ten years in the making is now one step closer to completion in Cape Coral.

Work started this week to install three vaults housing underground transmission lines along SE 26th Lane in the Cape.

Back in 2001, LCEC planners and electric system consultants realized the need for additional transmission lines to maintain optimum service for customers in the area.

Monday, crews finally began digging to install the underground system.

Currently, South Cape Coral is served by existing nearby substations. The system is radial, which means power goes from one point to another. There is a gap in the current system between two of the substations in the area.

But the new transmission lines will create a loop enabling service from two directions. This will eliminate overloading the existing transmission system source during an outage and supports continued growth in Cape Coral.

After years of discussion, the South Cape Community Redevelopment Agency decided it wanted the lines installed underground for aesthetic reasons, despite the hefty price tag.

Karen Ryan, the spokeswoman for LCEC, says the cost to install the same amount of transmission lines overhead would have cost about $600,000. LCEC would have covered that cost completely.

The cost to install the transmission lines underground is $4.5 million. The CRA has to foot the bill for the difference.

The transmission line will be installed underground along 46th lane from the LCEC substation located on SE 8th Court to Del Prado Blvd where it will connect to the recently installed overhead transmission lines.

Work will generally be done between 7 a.m. and 7p.m. Monday - Friday.

Utility service is not expected to be disrupted during construction.

Underground transmission lines are not in use anywhere else in Southwest Florida.

The project is expected to see it's ultimate completion date by September 31st, 2011.