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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


substation


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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