Ameren says worst of transmission line construction project is over

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 7/27/20

Representatives from Ameren Illinois attended the Edgar County Board study session Monday, July 20, to brief board members about the construction of a high-voltage transmission line across the …

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Ameren says worst of transmission line construction project is over

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Representatives from Ameren Illinois attended the Edgar County Board study session Monday, July 20, to brief board members about the construction of a high-voltage transmission line across the county’s southern townships.

Project manager Jim Jontry said the heavy traffic on rural roads will start easing now since the last of the 197 concrete foundations are poured.

“My philosophy is to get the foundation work done as fast as possible because it is the most impactful,” said Jontry. “I want them (the concrete trucks) gone as fast as a I can.”

Completion of the foundations, however, does not mean an end to truck traffic. The contractor is currently hauling steel components for the poles and towers that will support the power lines. Jontry anticipated erection of some towers to start by the end of the week, if the weather permits.

Hauling of the structural components is expected to continue through the end of September. The stringing of the lines follows and the goal is to have the lines energized and carrying electricity sometime in October.

Board member John Chittick voiced concern about the need to close roads for stringing the line during harvest season.

“Residents need to know when roads are likely to be closed,” said Chittick. “It is going to be frustrating for somebody with equipment that can’t easily back up or turn around to come on a closed road and have to sit there for an hour.”

Jontry said road closings will likely be rare and of brief duration since helicopters are used for stringing the power lines.

Leah Dettmers, Specialist Stakeholder Relations, said information about anticipated closings can be posted through Ameren’s social media with links to the county’s online presence.

Board member Karl Farnham Jr. revisited an issue from a month ago when a heavy rain floated the contractor’s heavy timbers off site and blocked a stream causing flooding. He said the contractor did not wait for conditions to dry before resuming work resulting in unnecessary damage to both public infrastructure and private property.

“That’s damage that’s going to be there for several years,” said Farnham.

Adding, he recently drove through the work area and found places where the contractor is still not using planks for heavy equipment to cross ditches.

“You need to make sure the people working for you are not abusing the roads of Edgar County or the rights of the people of Edgar County,” Farnham said.

Jontry replied there are weekly meetings with the subcontractors emphasizing safety issues, and Ameren is working closely with the Edgar County Highway Department to document damage and schedule repairs.

In another matter, Edgar County Chief Deputy Dereck Weston anticipates returning inmates to the jail during the final week of July. He noted some details are still being worked out, and the corrections officers are taking training for certification in food handling in order to feed inmates. The jail will only hold males. Any female inmates will continue to be housed at the Clark County Jail.

Weston also discussed measures related to COVID-19 protections at the jail such as sealing off the dispatch area from the rest of the facility. He said all people getting booked into the jail have their temperature taken and masks are available.

“We have taken a couple of people for testing,” Weston said.