The Tacoma Power project to replace the Henderson Bay electric towers with steel poles—one in the water to replace four towers and four on land to replace the existing towers—is set for completion on schedule.
The towers, holding the lines that carry power to Tacoma from the Cushman Dam, had been in place since 1926. In-water construction began at the end of July. In August crews moved the power lines to the new temporary poles to allow room for construction of the permanent pole and removal of the towers. They then used vibration hammers to drive the pile for the new pole. Once that work was completed they used a hammer to drive the pile deeper into the soil.
The last piece of the new pole was placed Sept. 5. The following week, the line from the northern towers was removed and a new line was pulled to the new pole and energized. During this process power continued to flow through the lines from the south towers, so there was no disruption of service. The structure and foundation of the old towers were then removed.
By the time this article goes to press, the same process for the south towers should be underway. The project is scheduled to wrap up no later than the end of October.
Chris Gleason, Tacoma Power Utilities community and media services manager, said that the project has gone smoothly. Installing the new pole and removing the old towers required several large barges. There were concerns that traffic would be impacted affected as drivers slowed to watch the work. Pedestrian traffic and fishing near the bridge were limited during the time the new lines were energized due to safety concerns.
Gleason said that someone posting on the Key Peninsula Facebook page commented that the look of the tower was “butt-ugly.” However, Gleason said, “The new pole design is now standard in the power industry and balances the needs of construction, maintenance, safety and appearance.”
Don Swensen, who chairs the Key Peninsula Land Use Advisory Commission, said KPAC reviewed the request for tower replacement over a year ago and voted to recommend approval. “As for disruption, I have heard of none to speak of yet,” he said. “However, as they begin to dismantle the old towers, especially the ones adjacent to the bridge, I would expect delays due to safety issues, as well as visual distraction. So far, I think the project has run very smoothly and have heard no complaints from anyone.”
“We are amazed by the support we’ve received from the Key Peninsula community,” Gleason said. “People were patient and encouraging as we built this project, and as we wrap up we are awe-struck that there are so many people who live in this area and care so much about it.”
For updates on the project, go to www.MyTPU.org/hendersonbay.