Projects Overview

City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) Infrastructure Projects

Find information on current and completed infrastructure Utilities projects in Palo Alto, including electric, fiber optics, gas, wastewater and water. Storm drain projects are managed by the City's Public Works Department.

Steel plates on the streets? The steel plates are placed at the locations of excavation in accordance with safety regulations and in order to allow access to the underground infrastructure until the work is completely finished and excavation is backfilled. The plates on the streets are placed/owned and maintained by the Utilities, Contractors working for the Utilities, and third-party developers.

Safety is a number one priority for CPAU!

View Utilities safety information at
Comments and questions are always welcome and we invite you to contact us at anytime.

Learn about Upgrade Downtown, a infrastructure and street improvements project in the Palo Alto downtown and University Avenue area. More information including schedule and map is available at

Current City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) Projects

Water Main Replacement - Hamilton, Everett, Hawthorne, Oregon Ave
Project Overview: Replace cast iron and other aging pipelines with high density polyethylene mains.
Duration: Construction starts June 2017.
Location: Map





Utilities Underground District 47
Project Overview: CPAU will convert the utility lines from overhead to underground. This involves the installation of new underground electric, communication, and cable TV systems, and homeowner's conversion of their services to underground so that the overhead lines and poles can be removed. 



Substructure installation: Finished
Electric System Installation: approximately spring 2017
Homeowner’s service conversion: by June 30, 2018
Communication/CATV System Installation: approximately summer 2018
Pole Removal by AT&T: Once all services have been converted to underground and all overhead facilities can be removed. 
Location: Parts of the University South and Professorville neighborhoods; areas bounded by Forest Ave, Middlefield Rd, Lincoln Ave and Cowper St.              


Overhead Electric Distribution System Maintenance
Project Overview: Pacheco Utility Line Builders, Inc. will work with City of Palo Alto Utilities to perform ongoing maintenance on the overhead electric distribution system throughout the city.
Duration: Start date March 9, 2015 through March 9, 2016. This contract could possibly be extended to a three year contract that would continue up until March 2018.
Location:              To allow us to complete some of this work, we might need to shut off power at times. If and when we do need to shut off power, all impacted customers will receive direct notices of the power shut-down(s) at least three or more days before the event.             

Rebuild Underground District 24
Project Overview: Rebuild the underground electric system by replacing old equipment with new and reconfiguring it to current design standards. This is to ensure electric service reliability.
Duration: Initial work on the project started October 2015. Because of the area and customers impacted by this work, staff has been working with customers on the scope of work and scheduling to minimize the impact. Work is performed after hours to minimize impact to businesses. Customers are notified in advance of any power shut offs necessary to perform the work. This has delayed completion, now expected to be finished by summer of 2017.
Location: Area bounded by Lytton Ave, Bryant Street, Forest Avenue, and Alma road, as well as smaller areas downtown near Cowper Street and University Avenue.

Rebuild and Reconfigure Electric System in Stanford Hospital/Mall Area
Project Overview: Enable the City to provide reliable service to new facilities at the Stanford and Lucille Packard hospitals. Utilities is rebuilding and reconfiguring the underground electric system to increase reliability and capability.
Duration: Various projects are in construction and design with an anticipated completion of December 2017. New load projections from Stanford and added buildings are necessitating review of designs and possible modifications.
Location: Quarry Road, Welch Road

Customer Connections
Project Overview: Wherever there is new construction, Utilities is typically there at some point in the construction process to provide temporary and permanent power as needed.
Duration: Utilities involvement varies depending on the project and customer's construction schedule.
Location: Various

Crossbore – Gas/Sewer Safety Inspection Program
Project Overview: Checking all privately-owned sewer lines throughout the City to ensure that there are no natural gas lines accidentally “crossbored” through them. A program update was presented to UAC on June 1, 2016.
Duration: Ongoing; expected completion late 2019
Video: Mayor’s Youth Video Corp – Crossbore

Completed Infrastructure Projects

LED Streetlight Installations
Project Overview: To provide brighter, more efficient and high-quality lighting to the streets throughout the City. Over 85% of the city's 6,500 street lights are completed!
Duration: Phase III of the LED streetlight project was completed in August 2014. This concluded the replacement of "Cobrahead" lights in Palo Alto.

Staff is currently investigating options for retrofitting the remaining "decorative" style lights and will present options to Council before moving forward with any replacements.
Location: Decorative lights are in various areas around the City, including: University downtown; Crescent Park; Community Center; Leland Manor; and Green Gables.

Emergency Water Supply Project
Project Overview: Build a long-term emergency water supply system that will provide enough water to meet basic needs for the entire City in the event of an earthquake or other emergency that cuts off our normal water supply from the Hetch-Hetchy regional system.
Duration: Completed May 2014
The El Camino Park recreational facilities were restored December 2015.
Location: El Camino Park
Video: Mayor’s Youth Video Corp - El Camino Park Water Reservoir Project

Fiber to Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD)
Project Overview: This project provides 18 PAUSD facilities with a high speed, high reliability fiber network
Duration: Completed Fall 2014
Location: Map




 Frequently Asked Questions

Why is PG&E doing construction in Palo Alto? The City of Palo Alto Utilities supplies natural gas to all residents and businesses in Palo Alto. However, the natural gas used in Palo Alto is transported to the City's distribution system through large transmission lines owned by PG&E. Click here for a list of all current PG&E projects happening in Palo Alto.

What do the colored markings in the street mean? These different colored lines and letters have been placed to indicate the location of various underground utilities, so construction crews will not hit them while excavating. They are placed by Underground Services Alert (USA), the folks you should call (811) ANYTIME you plan to dig on your property. Click here to see a chart explaining what all the colors mean.

Why are Utilities crews digging up a street that was just repaved? This only happens when there is an urgent problem that must be addressed immediately. Otherwise, a 5 year moratorium on planned projects is observed after a street has been repaved.

Other questions or concerns? Contact us by email or call (650) 329 2161.

Last Updated: Dec 6, 2017