Why the Secret Service is involved in Palm Beach’s utilities project

Palm Beach’s town-wide burial of overhead utilities shifts into Phase 2 next year, when construction will move into the neighborhood of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

Kimley-Horn, an engineering firm and the town’s project consultant, has been talking to the U.S. Secret Service about ways to keep the multi-million-dollar project humming along, with as little interruption as possible, while the federal agency does its job of keeping the president safe while he’s in town.

>>DONALD TRUMP IN PALM BEACH: Latest news, photos, videos

“Last week, we had a productive meeting with the Secret Service about how presidential visits may impact our construction,” Kevin Schanen, a vice president with Kimley-Horn, told the Underground Utilities Task Force on Tuesday. “They were very accommodating.”

Schanen wouldn’t discuss details, which are still being worked out. But he said they are talking about “procedures our contractors could implement to allow construction to continue during road closures … [but] when he does roll by there may be stand-down period of 45 minutes to an hour.

“There is extensive coordination between the [Florida Department of Transportation] and Secret Service,” he said. “Now, we are kind of being pulled into that fold as we get ready for Phase 2 construction in the summer of next year.”

>>More on the Palm Beach utilities project

The Secret Service works with federal, state and local partners to establish and implement security plans, Joseph A. Casey, special agent and spokesman for the Secret Service, said in an email. “Efforts are always made to minimize disruption to the general public,” he wrote.

Phase 2 is divided into two areas — Onondaga Avenue south to Osceola Way in the North End, and from Sloan’s Curve north to the intersection of South County Road and South Ocean Boulevard.

Construction is expected to start in late August and take 18 to 24 months to complete, Schanen said.

The design for Phase 2 is about 35 percent complete, Schanen said. Workers are finishing “soft digs” of the area to verify the location of existing underground utilities.

Work began this summer on the first of the eight phases, with Phase 1 North from Onondaga Avenue to the Palm Beach Inlet, and Phase 1 south from Sloan’s Curve to the south town limit. That work is expected to continue until around the end of next year.

Trump’s visits typically last a few days to around 10 days during the holidays, when he is in town from before Christmas until after New Year’s Day.

He was here for the Thanksgiving holiday and is expected to return on Friday afternoon or evening.

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