Land off I-80 logged to make way for power lines |

Land off I-80 logged to make way for power lines

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunA swath of forest off Interstate 80has been logged to make way for power lines that will be relocated from land in the Gray's Crossing development.

The relocation of power lines that run through Gray’s Crossing has left a brown, treeless strip, highly visible to motorists passing on Interstate 80.

The power line project ” which will take approximately two months to complete, according to Sierra Pacific Power ” was approved when the Gray’s Crossing development received the green light from the Truckee Town Council in February of last year.

East West Partners, the developers of Gray’s Crossing, hired a forester to clear a 175-foot-wide swath to allow for the electrical lines to be moved from a location that will soon become Gray’s Crossing homes. The development company is also paying for Sierra Pacific Power to relocate the lines.

“The lines are being relocated at the request of the property owner,” said Faye Andersen, spokeswoman for Sierra Pacific Power. “The only thing that we are doing is moving the lines.”

The 175-foot cut will allow for four utility lines, one of which is owned by the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, to run along Interstate 80. These lines connect Sierra Pacific Power with a Pacific Gas and Electric facility in Drum Forebay, Calif., bring power to Truckee, and run power to Hobart Mills, according to Andersen. None of the lines will specifically service Gray’s Crossing.

The transmission lines had to be moved because of the design of the project and because the high-voltage wires bisected a portion of the property, said East West Partners project manager Rick McConn.

“We either had to relocate or bury all of the power lines,” McConn said.

And the size of the area that was logged could not be varied because of federal regulations regarding transmission lines, said McConn.

East West Partners plans to re-vegetate the deforested area below and around the lines, and possibly plant trees to block the view of the cut from Interstate 80 if they can get approval from Caltrans to work in the Interstate 80 easement.

“We will do what we can do within the federal regulations,” McConn said of the company’s re-vegetation plans.

Plants that grow fast and tall will not be allowed under the lines because they could eventually interfere with the high-voltage wires, McConn said.

The stretch of Interstate 80 that runs through Truckee is eligible to become a state-designated scenic highway. The Town of Truckee has adopted planning policies that are designed to protect the views along Interstate 80 .

However, the Gray’s Crossing environmental report gave no indication of how visible the power line project would become. Although a stand of trees still remains to block the view of the cut from the intersection of Interstate 80 and Highway 89, motorists driving eastbound on Interstate 80 get a clear view of the deforested area before they reach Highway 89.

“An intervening vegetative buffer would remain between I-80 motorists and the new transmission lines,” read Gray’s Crossing environmental report. “And views would not be altered significantly from existing conditions.”

Gray’s Crossing, the largest development in town since Truckee incorporated, includes a golf course, commercial center and nearly 700 residential units. The development will include 225 affordable housing units.

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