NORWALK, Conn. – Eversource invites Norwalkers to come to City Hall on Tuesday to learn about their plans to relocate high-voltage transmission lines off the Walk Bridge.
The relocation of the two 115-kilovolt cables is mandated by the Connecticut Department of Transportation; Eversource plans to reroute the lines from the railroad tracks by burying them under the Norwalk Police headquarters parking lot, under Elizabeth Street, under the Norwalk River, under the Veterans Park visitors dock and then up Route 136 to the Fort Point Street railroad bridge, where the lines will then return above ground and continue down the railroad tracks.
The relocated lines will replace Walk Bridge catenaries. The Common Council on Oct. 9 authorized Eversource to move forward with an application to the Army Corps of Engineers, part of the process of getting approval from the Connecticut Siting Council.
The open house is an opportunity for property owners to talk face to face with the engineers designing the project, Eversource Public Information Officer Frank Poirot said last week. Eversource Senior Project Manager Marsha Wellman described it as “a bit like an adult science fair,” as there are no presentations; anyone can drop in between 5 and 8 p.m., in City Hall.
The new route of the lines is roughly three-quarters of a mile, and was chosen to create reliability for the power grid, minimize impacts to residents and businesses, and for its reasonable cost, Wellman said. It would begin at the police station parking lot because that’s the only vacant land that is available to take the line from the railroad tracks to the river, and the route is designed to hug the property lines at 70 and 90 Water Street because nothing can be built over the vaults that will house the cables.
The decision to go under the visitor’s dock came out of two years of discussions in Mayor Harry Rilling’s office, Wellman said, in which City officials requested a minimal impact to the park itself.
The lines would go 20 feet under the bottom of the Norwalk River, just above the bedrock, and 8 feet under the dock pilings.
A horizontal directional drill would be used to go under the river, in what is planned to be the last part of the project, in late 2019 and early 2020, Poirot said.
He also said roads would remain open while work is done. The cost of the project hasn’t been calculated yet, and “there are more partners sharing in the cost than it would be for a more traditional power sharing project.”
Eversource hopes to make its application to the Siting Council by the end of the year.