June 11, 2014

Poles in road ditch create safety concern

By Annette Tait

For the most part, construction of Minnkota Power Company’s Center to Grand Forks transmission has progressed smoothly in Oliver County. However, there is one notable exception: location of a series of five structures placed in the ditch along 23rd Street SW west of ND 25 across from the Yucca Cemetery.
During the April county commission meeting, commissioners questioned the placement of the power poles in such close proximity to the roadway. Paul Mahlen, Minnkota Power, and Terry Fasteen and Jim Jackson, KLJ Engineering, appeared before the commission at the June meeting to further discuss this concern.
“Originally, the alignment was to pass over the Yucca Cemetery but, during negotiations, Ascension Church did not want lines crossing overhead,” Jackson said. “This required a change in the alignment. The Webers installing a grain bin required another shift in alignment; those are the reasons the poles are in the ditch.”
Further discussion ensued, with Husfloen asking why the line didn’t stay on the north side of the county road as it was east of ND 25. County State’s Attorney John Mahoney also questioned why the distance from the roadway complied with the county ordinance but not the state ordinance, which requires a greater distance.
Fasteen explained that the move was a design decision involving a number of firms that worked on the project in addition to KLJ, noting that he could not speak to why the other firms made their decisions.

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