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North Hall power line replacement wraps up
A aerial photo of Thomson Bridge Road as Georgia Transmission Corp. crews change out the original three-wooden-pole structure for the new two concrete and metal structure crossing Lake Lanier. - photo by Courtesy oof Georgia Transmission Corp.

Tucker-based Georgia Transmission has completed a $5.5 million project putting up 6.2 miles of new, updated power lines across North Hall County, including a small part of Lake Lanier.

The lines are energized and good to go, as of late June, while crews take care of last-minute details, such as removing old poles, stabilizing areas around the new poles and restoring landscaping that was disturbed during construction, said Craig A. Heighton, public affairs director.

The final work is expected to wrap up later this month.

The cleanup is put off to the end of the project so Georgia Transmission can get straight to powering up lines.

“Due to the hot summer and the weather we’ve been having, we needed to get the lines energized as quickly as possible,” Heighton said. “Timing was an issue.”

The project called for 115,000-volt lines running between Leach Road and an area off the lake between Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road and Riverside and Island drives.

Work called for replacing outdated H-frame wooden structures with more durable steel or concrete single-pole ones.

The Leach Road-Ga. 60 line is half of a larger replacement project between Dawsonville and Gainesville. The first leg of the project — a line between Dawsonville and the Leach Road substation — was completed last year.

The old lines dated to the 1950s, or before Lake Lanier was built and at a time when farms and pastures filled the landscape.

In the decades since, neighborhoods have sprung up throughout the area, sprawl that has caused some issues in the project.

“Unfortunately, there are some areas where vegetation has grown up in the (area around the power line),” Heighton said during a June 2013 helicopter flyover of the area. “And if there are trees growing up into the line, that’s a huge safety concern.”

Georgia Transmission, a nonprofit cooperative owned by 39 electric membership corporations, allows many uses in the 125-foot-wide easement, such as roads, home gardens and farm plots. Vegetation not growing taller than 10-15 feet is OK.

The flyover revealed an assortment of items in the power line easement, such as swimming pools and trampolines, but also patches of erosion and thick areas of tree and plant growth.

“Some of (the property owners) had restricted vegetation in the right of way that will have to be removed,” Heighton said earlier. “We are working with those property owners to mitigate that loss as best we can.”

The process ended up going smoothly, he said Wednesday.

“There’s a couple of neighborhoods that we’ve worked extensively with, but the project has gone very well,” he said.

“We appreciate the community’s understanding and their willingness to work with us as we make these improvements.”

No other major projects for the area are on the horizon, Heighton said.

“However, our planners are always working with Jackson (Electric Membership Corp.) to make sure they have the adequate supply of electricity for their members,” he said.