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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 27, 2009

City project cuts across north, east campus

by Anne Krapfl

An Ames electrical upgrade project will bring lots of activity -- not to mention a bunch of really tall utility poles -- to the north and east sides of campus through mid-July.

The city is adding a third power line between the electrical substation at 24th Street and George Washington Carver Road and its substation adjacent to the power plant downtown. About one-third of this route is on university property. A new 161,000-volt line will share the same path as existing 13,000- and 69,000-volt lines. The higher voltage of the additional line requires a taller clearance between the ground and the electrical lines; thus, all the utility poles will be replaced with a combination of wood and steel poles.

Through a contract, Iowa State is a part owner of the city's electrical system and receives electrical service daily from the city, said Randy Larabee, a facilities planning and management engineer who's involved in the project. He said Iowa State is paying nearly 21 percent of the project's $5 million cost from utility repair funds. Larabee estimated it would cost at least 10 times that to bury the three power lines underground.

The route

The replacement poles and electrical lines will mirror the existing path between the substation and the railroad berm at Haber Road: east along 24th Street, south along the east side of Schilletter and University villages and through the university's disc golf course, across 13th Street and along the east side of Haber. Larabee said the new poles will be installed along the north side of the railroad tracks to the spot where the tracks cross Sixth Street in Brookside Park. This change will remove existing utility poles on campus in the area north of the power plant and CyRide bus garage.

That's tall

A variety of utility poles will be used for the project. The tallest wood poles are 105 feet, about 90 feet of which will be above ground. Larabee said the largest steel poles will rise 95 feet above the ground and include a 40-foot, below-ground concrete foundation with a diameter of 8.5 feet.


Towering power poles and a new high-voltage line will be installed on the north and east sides of campus as part of the city's electrical upgrade.