PSEG Defends Rush Hour Tree Trimming; Work to Stop at 2pm

Traffic on County Road 39 Tuesday morning as tree trimmers cut back branches from power lines.
Traffic on County Road 39 Tuesday morning as tree trimmers cut back branches from power lines. Photo credit: Brendan J. O'Reilly

UPDATE: All tree work was completed Tuesday and tree trimmers will not be returning Wednesday.

In response to requests from Southampton Town officials, tree trimmers working for the electric company PSEG will cease work along County Road 39 in Southampton by 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to a PSEG spokesman.

The work began around 7 a.m. along the eastbound side of County Road 39. One lane is partially closed as tree trimmers move down the highway. They started at the end of Sunrise Highway and are moving east toward North Sea Road. Traffic during the morning commute was backed up to Hampton Bays.

“We’re very cognizant of the traffic issues on that road,” PSEG Long Island director of communications Jeffrey Weir said. He explained that the work was deferred until after Labor Day. PSEG also planned to get all of the work done in one day, rather than causing disruptions over multiple days. However, Weir said PSEG has agreed to stop at 2 p.m. to avoid affecting the evening commute. The work may be finished by that deadline. If it is not complete by then, tree trimmers will come back Wednesday at noon to finish the work, contingent on weather, Weir said.

“In order to be safe, tree trimming has to be done during daylight hours,” he said. “It’s not like other roadwork that could be done during evening hours.”

The Southampton Town highway superintendent and police department were notified Monday that the work would be done Tuesday, Weir said, adding that tree trimming was also discussed with town officials months ago.

“We’re not cutting down trees; It’s just tree trimming.” Weir emphasized. “It is a circuit tree trimming program. It is part of a program we instituted to enhance and maintain the system reliability.”

Industry best practices call for tree trimming every four or five years, Weir said. PSEG took over from Long Island Power Authority in January, and does not know the last time the trees along County Road 39 were trimmed., Weir said.

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