Work to repair the damage to a Tennessee Valley Authority transmission tower knocked over in a crash on Friday could be complete in time to open South Illinois Avenue (State Route 62) in time for the Monday morning commute, a spokesperson said Sunday.
However, the schedule could be affected by weather and any potential drilling delays.
TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks said heavy equipment, materials, and workers, as well as safety and engineering plans, are required to replace the large high-voltage steel lattice tower that was knocked over by a pickup truck Friday afternoon. The safety and engineering were completed Friday evening, Brooks said.
“The heavy equipment, materials, and manpower needed to perform the work are either on site or en route,” he said. “We currently expect the work to be completed in time for Highway 62 to be open for the Monday morning commute. Risks to that schedule are weather and potential drilling delays due to the topography (i.e. rock).”
The transmission tower carries a 161-kilovolt double circuit line. TVA said one power line connects the Bull Run Fossil Plant to Norris, and the other connects Bull Run to Kingston. The tower also reportedly carries city transmission and distribution lines.
The cause of the single-vehicle crash hasn’t been released yet. It was a dry, sunny day when the crash occurred at about 4:15 p.m. Friday at Union Valley Road, near the University of Tennessee Arboretum. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. THP said the driver and two passengers in the pickup truck were injured, and charges are pending against the driver.
The four-lane roadway, also known as Pellissippi Parkway, is the main connection between Oak Ridge, Knox County, and Knoxville. A section of it has been closed since the crash on Friday. Detours have been set up.
Asked about the force required to knock down a tower, Brooks said TVA structures are designed to meet the National Electric Safety Code Standards that are primarily driven by wind and ice loads.
“Based on when this structure was built, it was designed to withstand 85 miles per hour winds on the tower and the conductor,” Brooks said.
It’s not clear if the structures are designed to withstand the impact of a moving vehicle.
There were widespread electrical outages after Friday’s crash, although it’s not clear how many lost power. Many residents and businesses reported losing power across Oak Ridge on Friday, and other residents reported losing power in Marlow, Oliver Springs, and toward Clinton.
Brooks said restoring power is a joint effort between TVA and the local power company, required because of the damage to each entity’s equipment.
TVA has alternative circuits, and the public utility said it used them to help restore power Friday afternoon and evening.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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