Western New Jersey

Power line replacement begins in Delaware Water Gap

Some cold-weather recreational activities will be impacted

BUSHKILL, Pa. - Some recreational uses will be "limited or periodically restricted"  between November and April in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area because of  construction of a new power line

"These temporary restrictions are intended to protect the public, employees and construction workers from safety hazards associated with large scale construction activities," said park superintendent John J. Donahue in a news release.

"Safety is a top priority for the National Park Service, the utility companies, and contractors working on this project in the park. We are all working together to ensure that disruptions to the public are minimized to the greatest extent possible."

Using cranes, large trucks and even helicopters, two utility companies -- PSE&G in New Jersey and PPL in Pennsylvania -- will be  upgrading an existing transmission line and associated structures within their right of way in the national recreation area

It is part of the construction of the Susquehanna to Roseland Transmission Line.

The portion of right of way paassing through the park is about five miles long and 150 feet wide.

It runs west to east from Bushkill, across the Middle Delaware Scenic and Recreational River to Hardwick Township, New Jersey, where it crosses the Pioneer and Hamilton Ridge trails, Old Mine Road, Route 602 (Millbrook-Blairstown Road) and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail before cresting Kittatinny Ridge.

Beginning Monday, the utility companies plan to spend several days removing the existing transmission lines and the associated structures along the right of way. New structures will be erected during the winter months and the new transmission lines will tentatively be installed over several days in February.

Some park sites and facilities will be temporarily closed, or access may be limited to eliminate or reduce hazards associated with moving overhead wires and the use of heavy construction equipment.

"The size and scope of this project and the commensurate risks to the public, employees, and contractors during these phases of construction make it necessary to institute these temporary closures during wire removal and installation," said Donahue.

No road closures are planned  but there may be occasional delays. Visitors are asked to be alert for hazards and increased construction vehicle traffic.

Areas that will be temporarily closed for a few days in November, and again in February include:

• The Delaware River corridor between Smithfield Beach and Bushkill Access

• River access points at Bushkill and Smithfield Beach in Pennsylvania and Poxono in New Jersey.

• The McDade Recreational Trail between Smithfield Beach and Bushkill Access.

In many cases, closures will only last for a few hours on a given day, but it may be necessary to close an area for longer periods.

Construction is scheduled to continue through the winter months, weather permitting, however no other restrictions on recreational activities are anticipated.

Hunting is temporarily prohibited along the utilities' access road off Community Drive in Middle Smithfield Township, PA, and within 450 feet in both directions from the centerline of the ROW creating a 900-foot wide, approximately 5-mile long area that is closed to all hunting from October 22 to April 1.

Hunters may not possess any means of taking game animals identified by the states of New Jersey or Pennsylvania while walking through or across the designated no hunting zone.

The utility companies will have safety monitors placed in areas where the utility right of way crosses trails such as the McDade Recreational Trail and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail so people can cross through those areas quickly and safely during most of the construction activities.

Signs will also be posted at the locations to notify the public.

More information on the transmission line project, including maps, construction schedules and restriction or closure notices, can be found on the park's website.

Current information on closures also will be posted on the park's Facebook page, and on Twitter.

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