Installation of subterranean power lines under way | AspenTimes.com

Installation of subterranean power lines under way

Eben Harrell
A backhoe operator fills in a ditch where power lines are buried along Brush Creek Road. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.
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Construction crews have begun a $6.3 million project to install underground power lines in the Brush Creek Valley in an effort to preserve the area’s scenic character.Crews from Holy Cross Energy, which supplies electricity to the Roaring Fork Valley, are in the first stage of installing power lines from Highway 82 to Snowmass Village. The lines should meet Snowmass Village’s electricity needs for at least the next 50 years, according to Holy Cross estimates.

The cables are usually carried above ground on large poles. But in August 2003, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County decided to have the lines installed underground. The estimated cost of the project will be recouped through a surcharge for Holy Cross users in Snowmass Village and the Brush Creek and Owl Creek valleys.The installation project began in May, but a Holy Cross official said the heavy equipment currently in use shows the true scope of the project.

“This is a huge project,” said Holy Cross design technician Libby Cowling. “We are currently laying large vaults in five spots in the valley which require cranes. We are also boring under Highway 82. I think that’s what people are noticing.”The project spells good news for Pitkin County’s Open Space and Trails program, which will use the platform of the construction for much of its proposed Brush Creek trail. The county could begin trail construction as early as next spring.

“Due to the construction, we should have a nice platform to build from,” Pitkin County land steward Gary Tennenbaum said. “Although it won’t follow our trail easements exactly, we’ll be able to place much of the trail over the power lines.”The construction project involves two phases and will likely be completed in the next year. The construction will cease through the winter because of wildlife concerns. Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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