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Trustees want to protect roads and culverts during project

UNION TOWNSHIP – Trustees are preparing for a major AEP Construction project in Union Township February and March that could damage township and county roads. AEP has requested permission to construct two temporary construction access roads off Canyon and Beaver Run roads for construction equipment being used to upgrade a major transmission line.

Trustees continue to work with AEP to determine the best route for AEP equipment to access the Canyon and Gale roads sites, causing the least damage to township roads as possible.

“We are looking at getting all of the load information still and expect to be able to get all the loads to legal limits, excluding the frost reductions,” said AEP project manager Adam Bittner in an email to Union Township. “The largest drill rig travels at 85,000 lbs but that rig is much bigger than needed for this project and I am anticipating getting a lighter duty rig for our foundation drilling.”

AEP Ohio spokesperson Terri Flora said the project is to improve the infrastructure of existing AEP transmissions lines that travel through Union Township; AEP is not installing any new lines. She said AEP is shutting down its coal-fired Muskingum River power plant near Beverly, Ohio, so in order to distribute power to customers from the remaining plants, more electricity must be sent through the existing lines.

This extra voltage heats up the existing lines, causing them to expand and sag. As they sag, there is a danger they may droop into tree lines, or come into contact with other structures, and short out. To ensure this doesn’t happen, Flora said AEP will be propping up the existing lines with stronger, higher utility poles.

“We’re taking a proactive approach to maximize the capacity of the lines,” Flora said. “We want to make sure the infrastructure is sound.” She expects AEP crews will complete the Union Township project in May.

Trustees, however, have concerns that the heavy equipment and concrete trucks necessary to complete the project could damage township roads, bridges and culverts. Trustees want the route to be used by AEP to be professionally assessed before and after the project. JG3 Consulting of Hebron recently completed an assessment of all township roads, ranking their conditions from 0 to 100. AEP has agreed to videotape the route before and after the project and is still discussing how to objectively assess the project’s impact. In general, AEP has agreed to return the roads to their pre-project condition.

“The worst case scenario will be timing,” said Trustee John Slater. He said the project would begin just as township roads are experiencing rapid freezing and thawing as spring approaches; a thawing road is more easily damaged.

The county engineer is requiring AEP to provide professional assessments of any bridges crossed by the construction equipment. Trustee Charles Prince suggested Monday night that trustees ask the county engineer to require assessments of any township culverts along the route that exceed three feet in diameter. Trustees agreed and road supervisor Dave Cable is complying a list.

In other township news,

• Trustee President and Licking County Commissioner-elect Rick Black formally announced his resignation, effective at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, as he prepares to become a Licking County Commissioner beginning Jan. 1.

“It has been an honor to serve the needs of the businesses and residents of Union Township and to work with the adjoining entities these past five years,” Black said in his letter of resignation. “As county commissioner I will be responding to many of the township’s needs that come through the county government system.

“As a Union Township resident,

I assure you I will continue to be involved at some level of local government,” Black said.

Trustees will begin advertising for Black’s trustee position this week. “I want to make sure people understand the appointment is only good through next year,” Prince said. The balance of Black’s term through 2017 will be on the November 2015 ballot.

Candidates are asked for a letter of interest and resume. They must be Union Township residents, which includes the Village of Hebron, and a registered voter at the point of the appointment. Slater and Prince will make the appointment. The letters and resumes must be postmarked by Dec. 29, 2014. They will not be opened until Jan. 1.

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