Work starts on Tanner project

NORTH BEND _ Bonneville Power Administration crews have

finished marking a number of trees that will be cut down to make way for

a new 115-kilovolt electrical line to run from Snoqualmie to a power

substation in North Bend.

A month after completing a final environmental assessment of the

Tanner Electric Transmission Line Project, BPA realty specialists are

negotiating with landowners along the line's route to purchase

property needed for the project's 50-foot-wide right of way. The line will start

near the Snoqualmie Ridge Business Park and travel south to Interstate 90. It

will follow the interstate for three-fifths of a mile before heading southeast

along North Bend Way. The line would then cut across to Alm Way and end at

the substation, which will be built by Tanner Electric Cooperative.

Kirk Robinson, manager of the BPA project, said the first phase of

the project consisted of identifying "danger trees" _ trees that could

potentially fall down and damage the Tanner electrical line. Those trees will be

cut down, as will trees located in the right of way.

"I believe we're done marking all the danger trees," he said, adding

that crews identified the trees by marking them with orange paint.

While some elements of the project will be completed this

fall, most of the work will begin next summer.

"With construction, we expect to start building roads and clearing

trees in June," Robinson said. "That

should take up to three months."

Then Bonneville will begin placing utility poles and stringing the

electrical line along the 4.5-mile route. That would take the project to the

end of November 2001, Robinson said.

One North Bend family is continuing its efforts to get the BPA to

bury part of the line. Michelle Gustafson, who lives on Southeast 106th

Place, which becomes Alm Way inside the North Bend city limits, addressed

the City Council at its last meeting. She urged council members to discuss

with Bonneville officials the prospect of burying the electrical line to limit

residents' exposure to the electromagnetic field (EMF) created by the line.

Under current project guidelines, she said a utility pole would be built about

100 feet from her house.

Gustafson added that if the line isn't buried, it should continue

farther along North Bend Way, then be diverted to Alm Way, closer to the


In her address to council members, Gustafson said there is enough

conflicting evidence about the health threat posed by EMFs that "the jury

is still out." She suffers from Crohn's disease, which attacks the

immune system, and is worried that the EMF generated by a power line could

affect her health, as well as her family's.

"If BPA won't bury this line, it should be forced to continue east

on North Bend Way where there are no families to be impacted, until the

point it needs to cross Alm Way to the Tanner substation," she said.

In their final environmental assessment of the project, BPA officials

cited federal studies that found no conclusive link between health problems

and EMFs. In the question-and-answer portion of the assessment,

Bonneville officials addressed the issue, stating, "EMF from the proposed BPA

line would be far less that what most people normally encounter in

their homes where wiring configurations and household appliances

dominate exposures …"

Officials also say it would cost too much to bury the line. Placing the

line underground would cost about $400 per linear foot, the BPA said,

compared to $60 per linear foot above ground.

Gustafson is asking that residents concerned about the project call

her at 888-5624 during the evenings.

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