New Redmond-Kirkland power line moving ahead

Nearly a decade after work began, a project to build a new 115-kilovolt power line from Redmond to Kirkland is still in the works.

The project, known as the Sammamish-Juanita transmission line, would see Puget Sound Energy (PSE) build a 115-kilovolt power line from the Sammamish substation in Redmond to the Juanita substation in Kirkland.

It is designed to increase reliability as the area grows and would serve some 55,000 current customers in the two cities.

The project initially envisioned running a line from the Sammamish substation around Northeast 95th Street near Willows Road. The line initially was planned to head north along Willows Road before winding northwest through easements before connecting to Northeast 124th Street and running to the Juanita substation.

However, Redmond Park Planning Manager Carolyn Hope told the city council at a meeting on Jan. 9 that this route was found to not be feasible.

In 2011, a stakeholders advisory group was commissioned to find a preferable route, which was the one originally recommended. This group included residents, businesses and landowners along the route and city representatives.

PSE found in a review that the initial placement would be challenging due to impacts to the environment and businesses, according to city documents.

The route was altered to run along Willows Road until it hit Northeast 124th Street along the Redmond Central Connector trail.

Since 2015, the city has been in negotiations with PSE to hash out an easement with the power company as well as other easement holders, which include Sound Transit and King County.

An agreement is anticipated in the first quarter of 2018, Hope said.

The city has already signed a transit easement with Sound Transit to build light rail along the corridor in the future.

Challenges to the new line include pinch points along the corridor, where the trail narrows from 100 to around 30 feet.

The city acquired around four miles of the 42-mile long trail known as the Eastside rail corridor in 2009, with other municipalities purchasing the other sections, which runs north from Renton to Woodinville.

Redmond has been building out the corridor into usable trails over the past few years in segments.

The 1.6 miles, which PSE would construct the power line along, is the final unfinished segment.

If the easement is approved, funding from PSE would be provided for the construction of a soft-surface trail along the corridor, completing the Redmond Central Connector.

Even though the project continues to move along, the last public outreach on it occurred in 2012, and council member Tanika Padhye said there should be renewed efforts to reach stakeholders.

“I think that we need to have our own process for reaching out to the public,” she said.

In reporting from 2012, residents in the area had expressed concerns about how a power line would affect their property values as well as health and safety concerns.

According to PSE, there are 12 related projects happening in the area designed to also increase system reliability.

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