Undergrounding Utility Lines: Modernizing Infrastructure for a Sustainable Future

In our ever-evolving world, advancements in technology have become an integral part of our daily lives. As cities and towns grow, so does the demand for reliable utility services. One significant step towards modernizing infrastructure and improving aesthetics is the process of undergrounding utility lines. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of undergrounding utility lines, its benefits, challenges, the overall process involved, and how software can accelerate this work.

Understanding Undergrounding Utility Lines

Undergrounding utility lines refers to the process of relocating overhead power, telecommunication, and other utility lines underground, thereby eliminating unsightly poles and wires that crisscross the sky. It involves burying these lines in underground conduits, often made of durable materials such as PVC or HDPE, and connecting them to utility service points.

Benefits of Undergrounding Utility Lines

  • Improved Reliability and Safety: Underground utility lines are less susceptible to weather-related disruptions like storms, high winds, and falling trees. This underground placement enhances system resilience, reducing the frequency and duration of power outages. Additionally, eliminating overhead lines minimizes the risk of accidents caused by falling wires, enhancing public safety.
  • Environmental Benefits: Undergrounding utility lines can contribute to a more sustainable future. With the removal of above-ground lines, there is less risk of wildlife disruption, especially for migratory birds. Additionally, underground lines reduce electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure and the potential health risks associated with it.
  • Aesthetics and Visual Appeal: The most apparent advantage of undergrounding utility lines is the enhanced aesthetics of the surrounding area. The removal of overhead wires and poles creates unobstructed views, improving the overall visual appeal of neighborhoods, urban landscapes, and historical districts.
  • Enhanced Property Values: Undergrounding utility lines has been known to increase property values. The improved visual appearance, reduced power outages, and increased safety make properties more attractive to potential buyers, resulting in a positive impact on property prices.

Challenges and Considerations

While undergrounding utility lines offer numerous benefits, there are certain challenges and considerations that need to be addressed:

  • Cost: The cost of undergrounding utility lines can be significant. Excavation, installation of conduits, and equipment upgrades require substantial investment. Funding sources need to be identified, and the cost-benefit analysis should account for long-term benefits.
  • Existing Infrastructure: Retrofitting existing communities with underground lines can be complex due to the presence of other underground infrastructure such as water and sewer lines. Coordination and careful planning are required to ensure successful implementation.
  • Maintenance and Accessibility: While underground lines are generally more resilient to weather events, maintenance and repairs can be more challenging and time-consuming compared to overhead lines. Accessing underground lines requires excavation, which can cause temporary disruptions.
  • Timeline: The International Energy Agency reports in their 2023 Energy Technology Perspectives report that building clean energy infrastructure today can take more than a decade. “While construction is in most cases a relatively efficient process, taking two to four years, planning and permitting can often cause delays and create bottlenecks, with the process taking two to seven years, depending on the jurisdiction and infrastructure type,” notes the report.

The Process of Undergrounding Utility Lines

  • Planning and Feasibility Study: The first step involves conducting a feasibility study to assess the costs, benefits, and technical requirements. It includes evaluating existing infrastructure, identifying potential routes for underground lines, and estimating the project timeline.
  • Design and Engineering: Once the feasibility study is complete, detailed designs and engineering plans are created. This stage involves determining the appropriate conduit size, depth, and location, taking into account factors such as load capacity, soil conditions, and future expansion needs.
  • Permitting and Approvals: Obtaining necessary permits and approvals from local authorities and utility companies is crucial. This ensures compliance with regulations, coordination with other infrastructure projects, and avoids any unforeseen conflicts.
  • Construction and Installation: The construction phase involves excavating trenches, installing conduits, and connecting the utility lines. Highly skilled technicians and equipment are employed to ensure the proper installation and testing of the underground lines.
  • Restoration and Landscaping: After the lines are installed, the excavation sites are backfilled, and any necessary landscaping is done to restore the area to its original condition or even enhance its appearance.

Using Software as an Accelerator

As global grids seek greater reliability through undergrounding projects, utilities will benefit from deployment operations management software, like Sitetracker, that streamlines and centralizes the work to get it done faster. From planning and design to engineering and permitting to construction and installation, every step of this highly repeatable process stands to gain efficiencies.  With Sitetracker, utilities gain:

  • A single source of truth across projects, sites and assets eliminates redundancy, boosts quality, aligns business and project teams and program goals and cust delays and rework.
  • A centralized data repository continually updated by field personnel who see the system as helpful to their work in replacing paper processes and providing an ability to use their personal mobile devices for data entry and image capture. This enables real-time schedule updates, exception based management, and forecasting across a projects’ activities and among stakeholders including third party contractors. 
  • Standardized project templates, milestones, and workflows based on industry-wide and organization-specific best practices to cut redundancy, avoid mistakes, and shorten project timelines.
  • Centralized permitting workflows from submission to final approval that cut costs and accelerate project timelines.
  • Configurable reports and dashboards capable of sharing critical activities completed in real-time, average time to closeout and other metrics to help make data-driven decisions and respond quickly to bottlenecks.
  • Forecasting and unified project schedules and timelines aligned with resource management–helping you manage the quality and delivery of projects as well as the skills and availability of resources.
  • Analytics that harness data amassed from past and current deployments or org-to org integrations to improve forecasting and project performance across a wide portfolio of installations.


The process of undergrounding utility lines is a significant step towards creating sustainable, visually appealing, and resilient communities. While it comes with challenges, the long-term benefits outweigh the initial costs. By improving aesthetics, reliability, and safety, undergrounding utility lines contributes to the overall enhancement of our infrastructure, making our cities and towns more attractive and livable for generations to come. But to make this vision a reality in the near future, utilities must look at ways to speed up lengthy planning and construction timelines that currently plague the industry and turn to software to standardize and accelerate the process.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can streamline your undergrounding projects, request a demo of Sitetracker today!