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Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Board recommends route for LCRA power line
After months of negotiations, the City of
After hearing a report on the project, the Environmental Board last week expressed its preference for which route the line should take.
LCRA plans to build an 8.2-mile electric power line from its Friendship substation just inside
Almost five miles of the right-of-way runs parallel to the planned route of State Highway 45 Southwest, and crosses through terrain in the recharge zone that has several critical environmental features. SH 45 SW will eventually connect SH 130 to Interstate 35 and points west.
“You couldn’t pick a worse place to build a highway,” said Environmental Board Member John Dupnik, who chairs the board’s SH 45 Subcommittee. “But it is there and we have to make sure we protect the area where they are building it.”
Willie Conrad, manager of
“The LCRA needs this project in order to improve the reliability of its transmission system,” he said. “It is also a response to growing demand in that area, particularly the Circle C area.”
The line runs north from the Friendship substation to the Escarpment substation, about one-half mile west of the south end of
“The challenge is to construct the transmission line with minimal impact to this environmentally sensitive area with known faults, fractures, caves and karst features in a manner that strives to protect the purpose for which the city bought the property,” Conrad said. “Each tower in the transmission line will have a deep piling in the ground to support it, and we need to know what’s down there.”
The LCRA opened talks with the City of
Several karst surveys were conducted to identify areas for alternate alignments. The LCRA also surveyed the area using ground-penetrating radar, resistivity, and drilled a number of soil borings.
The result of those studies showed “significant environmental risks” involved with the initial route that was approved by the PUC in 1999. After obtaining a PUC order for minor route deviations, the LCRA studied seven alternative routes and recently settled on two alignments for further study.
Route A, as it was designated, runs north of SH45 and bisects the city’s water quality protection lands. It also runs the risk of encountering potential environmental features without surface indication.
Route B would run south of the SH 45 right-of-way to avoid
Based on its findings, the LCRA is recommending Route B to the City of
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