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Power Line Installation to Affect River Traffic

Nathan Mullen, Big Eddy-Knight Transmission Line Project, Bonneville Power Administration

Since 2012, BPA has been constructing a new transmission line running 28 miles from the Celilo Substation in The Dalles to Knight Substation, a new facility about five miles northwest of Goldendale. The tribes have been monitoring and consulting on the project throughout this time. The Yakama Nation halted construction on one of the towers due to impacts to a cultural site. The tribe and BPA worked together to come up with a workable solution to relocate that particular tower.

The power line crossing will be just downstream of the Celilo train bridge.

The power line crossing will be just downstream of the Celilo train bridge.

During June and July, BPA will be installing 20 new transmission cables on the new towers where the new line crosses the Columbia River near Wishram, Washington.

Because of the very long distance these cables must cross (about 4,700 feet), BPA and its contractors plan to use a small helicopter to fly high-strength nylon ropes across the Columbia River that will be used to pull the transmission lines across. This work, called “stringing,” requires great precision and control, and is sensitive to high winds. Under windy conditions, the helicopters cannot operate safely and the work would be suspended temporarily.

While some of the stringing operations are underway, it will be necessary to temporarily stop highway traffic along I-84 in Oregon, railway traffic on both sides of the river, and river traffic within 500 yards of the Celilo train bridge. The shutdowns during the day will be short, lasting from a few minutes up to one hour at a time. The shutdowns and delays will occur intermittently during the day approximately between 9am to 5pm. The best chance to avoid these delays would be before 9am or after 5pm. The construction contractor will have a boat in the water during the stringing operations to help ensure safety on the river.

BPA will continue working closely with CRITFC’s Enforcement Team and our other tribal partners to share updates and new information with tribal fishers. Details and contact information will be posted at the Celilo and Avery access sites.

The operation should be fairly easy to spot when it is happening. Boats will be in the water to monitor the progess. The phone numbers of the boat operators will be posted at the access sites for fishers to contact to check on up-to-the-minute river traffic status.

Our goal is to cause the smallest possible disruption in river operations, while keeping everyone safe.

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