ITC to move power grid line poles but airport board not satisfied

BRANCH COUNTY — International Transmission Company agreed to move the power grid towers of the new 345-kilovolt transmission line west of the Branch County Memorial Airport due to safety concerns.

However, the airport board did not approve the change Tuesday night, questioning the plan's safety and its impact on future airport expansion.

Branch County Memorial Airport
Branch County Memorial Airport

The company will apply to the Michigan Public Service Commission this summer for approval of the route, which runs between Indiana and Duck Lake in Calhoun County.

The route runs approximately 50 miles through Branch County, entering Bethel Township and existing east of Tekonsha.

Airport manager Joe Best said ITC moved the locations for the 164-foot towers outside the 150-foot clearance from the glide slope for airport runways.

Board members pointed out that pole number 88 was only 15 feet under the flight path at its new location.

"Hit a power line and its all over," said Mike Kelly, the airport board's president.

ITC will bring a new 345 kv power grid line across Branch County for interstate power by 2029.
ITC will bring a new 345 kv power grid line across Branch County for interstate power by 2029.

Airport manager Joe Best pointed out that the location prevents any airport expansion since Messenger Lake and Oakgrove Cemetery are on the east side of the airport.

The manager said the main east-west runway is 5,200 feet, and it handles private and charter jets that land in Coldwater.

The airport board discussed possible commercial cargo air use and development for larger planes in the early 2000s, but formal plans or proposals still need to be put together.

Best said a 2,000-foot runway extension minimum would be required.

The ITC proposal "would eliminate any expansion in the future," Best told the board.

The board just completed spending over $10,000 to remove trees from the glide paths on the two paved runways and grass runway.

Using Michigan Department of Transportation drone aerials, Best had tree crews cut trees along the glide path 10 feet below the safe limit. "I don't think we'll have to cut them again for five years," he said.

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With the tree trimming, the airport received full certification this month for general aviation use.

— Contact Don Reid:

This article originally appeared on Coldwater Daily Reporter: Airport board wants ITC to move planned power grid further