Pella Chronicle

June 17, 2013

T-15 may close for three months

The Chronicle

Knoxville — The construction of the hydroelectric plant near the Red Rock Dam is expected to include road closures, including the possibility of T-15 being closed for 12 weeks. 

Marion County Engineer Roger Schletzbaum reported to the Marion County Board of Supervisors this morning on the progress that has been made between the County and Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) regarding preliminary agreements before construction begins on the power plant. MRES has been granted permission from the US Army Corps of Engineers to construct such a facility at Lake Red Rock. The City of Pella has already switched its electrical service to MRES. 

Schletzbaum has been in negotiations with MRES for over a year and he believes they have reached a good preliminary agreement and is ready to move onto the legal phase of a formal contract. 

As part of the agreement, MRES is expected to reimbursed the County for depreciation of local roads. Heavy truck traffic is expected on some of these which will require repair more quickly. A formula has been created, based upon traffic counts. 

Road closures are expected when construction begins. A provision will exist within the County's agreement with MRES that a route must be made to allow residents to get to affected homes. The closure of T-15 is expected when MRES cuts into the dam to build a "cut-off wall," according to Schletzbaum.

MRES Spokesman Bill Radio did not have enough information regarding the issues discussed this morning. More is expected to be heard from him next week.

Though Schletzbaum has been working to address possible concerns during the project, he said there are issues that may be "unavoidable." 

Marion County Attorney Ed Bull said the County wants to be compliance on its end of the agreement, but not enough details are available to have a firm agreement yet. The general contractor or how the company intends to build are still unknown. He suggested that Schletzbaum return to MRES with the message that the County is proceeding to legal phase of their contract negotiations. 

One of the conditions MRES has requested in its agreemen with the County is that the gravel roads be bladed twice a month. Schletzbaum said that is standard procedure. He does not foresee any interference with regular County maintenance while meeting the terms of the agreement with MRES. 

Radio said the general contractor for the project has not been selected. Bid packets have been sent to potential contractors in the past few days. In addition to getting packets out, MRES is still in the design phase and working on permits and licenses for the project. Radio said there is much more work to do before the project proceeds.

A contractor is expected to be chosen in the fall. Radio could not speak to specific road closures, but said that any time one in necessary, MRES will provide ample notice to those affected.