Evaluation of Proposed Power Transmission Line Through Delaware Water Gap NRA Leads to Some Changes

As the National Park Service continues to study a proposal to run a larger transmission line through Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and two other units of the National Park System, the details and possibilities are changing.

The proposed Susquehanna to Roseland Transmission Line would cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River as well as the NRA.

Under the proposal, the existing transmission corridor that carries a 230-kilovolt line through the three units would be upgraded to carry a double circuit 500 kilovolt line. But opponents have said that a transmission-line corridor sprouting 200-foot-tall towers should not be permitted within the National Park System.

After evaluated more data in the preparation of an environmental impact statement on the proposal, the Park Service has changed some of the alternatives that were presented during the scoping period. Two of the alternatives -- alternatives 6 and 7-- were dismissed when further study showed they were not sufficiently responsive to the applicants’ request and did not adequately meet the selection criteria, Delaware NRA officials said.

Furthermore, a new alternative developed by the applicants has been added to the analysis: alternative 2b. Alternative 2b would be built within the existing right-of-way of the applicants’ original proposal, alternative 2.

"Under alternative 2b, the applicants would not request any additional ROW. They have stated they can safely operate the new line within the existing ROW, which has some sections 100 feet in width," the agency said. "Construction would still require additional clearing for access roads and other features."

Furthermore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers withdrew as a cooperating agency, opting to perform its own compliance process, while this past February the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to become a cooperating agency in the EIS process. Two alternatives cross lands within the designated boundary of Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The Draft EIS for the Susquehanna to Roseland double 500kV Transmission Line Project is expected to be available for public comment and review in winter 2011/2012. In conjunction with the release of the Draft EIS, the Park Service will again hold a series of public meetings to present information on the Draft EIS to the public and to collect public comments.