I-5 Corridor Reinforcement has drawn harsh criticism from Camas officials

BPA project comment period extended

Those who support and those who oppose the Bonneville Power Administration’s I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project have a little longer than expected to submit their comments.

In consideration of requests from the public, the Bonneville Power Administration extended the comment deadline from March 1 to noon Monday, March 25.

BPA released the draft environmental impact statement and preferred route alternative for the 500 kilovolt lattice steel tower transmission line for public review and comment on Nov. 13.

The draft EIS describes the proposed project and why it is needed, discusses the environmental impacts the project would create, and lists mitigation measures that would lessen or eliminate those impacts.

BPA’s preferred alternative is the “Central Alternative,” using “Central Option 1.”

According to a BPA press release, the current cost estimate for the preferred alternative is $459 million and avoids many small, rural parcels of private land by crossing significant lengths of land held by large public and private landowners, as well as avoiding the most environmentally, mission-sensitive and high impact lands these entities manage on the East Alternative.

Segment 52, which is included in the preferred alternative, is 3.6 miles long and travels through the Washougal Urban Growth Area, crosses the Washougal River and runs through Camas in the Goot Park area. In addition, a river crossing from Troutdale to Camas is the only Columbia River crossing that is being considered for the project.

In meetings with BPA officials, Camas city leaders had asked that the BPA consider several requests, including minimizing the impacts to the Camas Urban Growth area north of Lacamas Lake and burying any lines that fall within city limits, in accordance with city ordinance. The BPA has indicated that the possibility of burying the lines has been eliminated from any further detail study, primarily due to cost concerns.

In a guest column in the Post-Record, Councilman Steve Hogan said the city could pursue legal action against BPA.

“I am writing this note to let you know that I personally believe that this issue is going to come to a head for the City of Camas and its citizens in the near future,” he said. “It is my prediction that this will end up in legal action.”

According to the BPA, there are 327 homes within 500 feet of the preferred alternative, while there are 3,032 within 500 feet of the West Alternative. Comparatively, there are slightly more homes within 500 feet of the preferred alternative than the East Alternative.

The primary driver for the proposed 79-mile long and up to 150 foot wide line that would connect a new substation north of Castle Rock, Wash., with another new substation in Troutdale, Ore., is to maintain system reliability in the area.

To view a map of the four alternatives being considered by the BPA and the draft environmental impact statement, visit www.bpa.gov/Projects/Projects/I-5/Pages/default.aspx.

BPA expects to complete the final EIS in 2014. BPA will then issue a decision about whether to build the project in an agency record of decision. If the BPA decides to build, negotiations would begin with affected property owners. Construction would begin in 2015 and be complete in 2018.