How about Utility Conduits for Residential Areas?

Back in January I wrote this on a Slashdot article about how underground utility infrastructure is frequently damaged by construction and repair.

My neighbors and I have had our share of underground utility outages while a new sewer line was installed. Cable, telephone, electricity and water were all out at some point during that period. To fix the problem, the companies just lay a new line and bury it, leaving the old. If you dig and find a broken wire, there’s no telling if it’s needed unless somethings stops working in your house (or your neighbor’s).

I think there should be a standard for burying utilities. At least have a marked pathway where everything goes. Or how about a fixed conduit from the street utilities to your house? Make it easy to get to and hard to damage. Phone and cable wires could be lumped together, and the electricity could be nearby but obviously guarded from people accidentally touching it.

Sure a conduit box could be expensive, but given the number of times these guys have had to come out to our neighborhood to fix damage, it might pay for itself. Something has to be better than the present situation.

I think a utility conduit is a good idea that companies are too short-sighted to adopt. And it’s not just a problem in the U.S. While reading the May 2006 National Geographic, I came across this quote from Prince Charles regarding a planned community he was trying to establish:

“It took a long time to wear down the public utility people to have one common trench for water, electricity and gas,” [Prince Charles] said. “That was more difficult than you would believe possible. It means you don’t have to dig up the road every five minutes—and, you know, one common satellite dish means you don’t have to have these things stuck all over everything like a rash.”

So I guess I just need some royal clout and I might be able to pull it off!