Power line work to include helicopter and implosives

photo.JPGA sign at a rest stop near St. Cloud warns travelers of work on the CapX2020 powerline. Similar work is being done between Cass Lake and Grand Rapids this week. (MPR Photo/Nathaniel Minor)

People traveling on U.S. Highway 2 between Cass Lake and Grand Rapids may notice some unusual construction activity this week.

Utility companies constructing the CapX2020 high power transmission line are using a helicopter and implosive devices on the project. That phase of the work is expected to continue through April.

The helicopter will fly close to new transmission structures near Highway 2 in Cass and Itasca counties. The aircraft is being used to install conductor wire along the power line corridor.

Construction crews will also use implosive connectors to splice transmission conductor joints. The spit-second detonation creates a flash and a loud boom.

A video of the process is posted on the CapX2020 web site.

Project safety manager Eric Hamm is advising travelers not to stop and gawk at the work.

“Stopping along the road or work area increases the likelihood of vehicle accidents and may distract workers, making their jobs more dangerous as well,” said Hamm.

Power company officials say similar work on the 230kV transmission line will happen early this summer at the other end of the line, between Wilton, west of Bemidji, and Cass Lake.

Company officials say the new line will improve electric service reliability and support growth in the region.

The project is owned by Minnkota Power Cooperative, Minnesota Power, Xcel Energy, Great River Energy and Otter Tail Power Company.