Who doesn’t love that first glimpse of blue ocean as you enter Montauk where the old and new highways meet? Billboards like those in this photograph no longer welcome motorists, having been banished in the 1970s. But utility poles have been another story, growing in number and lingering and looming across the landscape.
Thanks to an effort spearheaded by John Keeshan, some of the most visible and unsightly power lines in Montauk are being moved underground. First, he and Dan Cahill led an effort, which neighborhood residents paid for, to have utility poles removed and lines buried along an extended stretch of eastern Old Montauk Highway.
“They’re not only ugly and interfere with the beauty of the ocean to view, but they also are dangerous,” Mr. Keeshan said in an oral history interview in 2022, as his long campaign to bury the lines was finally bearing fruit. “Because if, God forbid, somebody pulls off the road trying to avoid a deer and hits a pole, it’s curtains.”
Next up was the eastern end of the “new” Montauk Highway, covering an area just west and east of its intersection with the old highway and a short way up Second House Road. East Hampton Town arranged to bury a web of crisscrossing utility lines both to improve the view at the entrance to Montauk and to make power more reliable during storms. According to the town supervisor’s office, PSEG and Optimum have already completed their work, removing their own equipment, and Verizon is expected to finish the job and remove the utility poles by the end of September.
“So when you drive into town, you’re going to be received by the spectacular view of the ocean without the telephone poles and wires,” Mr. Keeshan had predicted last summer.
Many thanks for a promise fulfilled!