Gov. M. Jodi Rell today announced an agreement that avoids the need to build three bridges to carry new high voltage power transmission lines across waterways in Fairfield, one of which borders Westport.
Jodi Rell: common sense prevailed. Dave Matlow/WN file photo
Rell said the state Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection (DEP) are now proposing to run these transmission lines along two existing DOT bridges, including one at Sasco Creek on the Fairfield-Westport line, and to place the line underwater in the third location.
“We have crafted a solution that addresses my two top concerns on this project–serving the energy needs of our families and businesses, and protecting the environment,” Rell said in a statement issued by her office.
“DOT and DEP have successfully responded to public concerns about the impact of this project and have demonstrated that common sense and cooperation are two keys to effective government. By minimizing the impact on the environment, we protect Connecticut’s beauty and quality of life.”
The proposed new plan address concerns raised about the placement of a 69-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line from Middletown to Norwalk as it passes through sections of Fairfield.
Work on the Westport section of the line is already underway on Post Road East. Plans call for the line to go under the Saugatuck River at a spot along Imperial Avenue near the Westport Woman’s Club.
The Fairfield plans had called for construction of three stand-alone bridge structures to carry the lines across waterways in that area.
Under the new plan, the transmission line will be attached to existing DOT bridges that span the Mill River and Sasco Creek, which are both along U.S. Route 1 in Fairfield.
At the third location, the new plan calls for placing the transmission line below the water that runs underneath the Ash Creek bridge. That bridge is located on Route 130, which is known locally as Fairfield Avenue, near the Fairfield-Bridgeport line.
The line will be installed using horizontal directional drilling. It will be placed at a depth that will minimize the impact on natural resources and aquatic life.
Installation of the power line underneath the Ash Creek bridge will require closings of some lanes of Fairfield Avenue while work is conducted. It is estimated installation of the power line could take from two to six months.
Engineering studies have shown that the DOT bridges on the Mill River and Sasco Creek can support the conduit that will be used to carry the power lines, Rell said. The bridge at Ash Creek is not suitable for this because of its age and design.
DEP had issued a tentative decision to approve plans for placement of the entire transmission line–which included the three stand-alone bridge structures proposed to carry the transmission line through Fairfield.
The agency had scheduled a final public hearing on the three Fairfield bridges for Monday.
All parties are now expected to sign the new agreement to be presented to the DEP hearing officer Monday, Rell’s office said.
It is expected this “stipulated agreement” will form the basis of DEP’s final decision on plans and permits needed for the transmission line.