Work to rebuild Midway-Benton transmission line to be finished in June

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldMarch 24, 2013 

The Midway-Benton transmission line is being rebuilt after close to 70 years of service.

The 28.2 mile line that runs across Hanford from the Benton Substation to the Midway Substation dates to World War II, according to the Bonneville Power Administration. It's one of many lines serving Benton County, but is a critical link in the system to provide electricity to the Tri-City area, said BPA project manager Erich Orth.

The project is planned to keep the system reliable and to reduce safety risks to the public and workers on the aged line. It also will greatly reduce maintenance.

Rebuilding the line and 11 miles of the Benton-Othello transmission line will cost about $17 million, which includes improving access roads along the line, Orth said. The Othello line parallels a portion of the Midway-Benton line to feed Avista's system to the north.

No major work has been done on the transmission lines since they were built in the 1940s, according to BPA. They've outlasted their expected service life, but the electric wires, cross arms, insulators and dampers are worn and some of the line is structurally unsound, according to a BPA notice.

The Benton-Midway line heads northwest from the Benton Substation near the Columbia River to the southeast side of Gable Mountain and then travels west to the Midway Substation. It will be rerouted farther to the south of Gable Mountain and Gable Butte, which are important areas to tribes who historically used land that's now part of the Hanford nuclear reservation.

The change to move 14.5 miles of the transmission line about two miles south will put it adjacent to a Department of Energy power line and closer to paved roads, improving access, Orth said.

Work started this winter and should be completed by the end of June.

-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @HanfordNews

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