Representatives from NIPSCO, engineers, and real estate experts were on hand Monday afternoon at Tiffany’s in Topeka as they begin the process of planning, designing and eventually building a 100-mile electric transmission line over the next several years.
Nearly 50 people stopped in during the open house to look at maps, information and, more importantly to NIPSCO and those planning the project, to provide useful information that could help determine the best route for the line.
No route has been proposed, but the line will run from Reynolds in White County past Burr Oak in Marshall County and will terminate near Topeka at the Hiple substation. NIPSCO representatives noted that some points, such as the substations where the line will hook into, are fixed but the remainder of the route is still being determined. At the open house, NISPCO representatives explained the various factors that go into their route considerations:
Access and terrain, visual compatibility of the line, and proximity to residences, business, public buildings (schools, churches, etc.), irrigation systems, new and planned developments, and conservation areas. The line route will also need to consider environmental impacts on and avoidance of woodlands, crops/pasture/grasslands, wetlands, streams and cultural resources. Cultural resources include National Register of Historic Places sites and archeological resources. The routing will also have to consider threatened and endangered species and their habitats.
Finalizing the route will take place in late 2013, with right-of-way and permitting starting in 2014. Construction on the site will begin in 2015, with a 2018 completion date.
Once the route is set and construction starts, crews will first take soil samples for the pole foundations, followed by erosion control. Crews will build temporary site access and clear the right-of-way prior to the delivery of materials. The foundation will be built and the pole, which is transported in sections, will be delivered to each site and assembled. Large cranes will lift the poles into place. Crews will then install the hardware and transmission lines. Finally, the site will be restored.
Officials plan to return to Topeka for a follow-up open house in July, at which time, proposed routes will be shown and additional comments taken prior to final route selection.
Area residents who were unable to attend the open house can submit comments or questions via the project website at www.reynoldstopeka.com or by calling 1-855-264-2219.