Still no consensus reached on power line project in south Columbia

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COLUMBIA - Columbia city council members sat for two hours Monday afternoon to revisit the controversial proposal to construct high-voltage power lines in the southern neighborhood, but they didn't reach any consensus on the installation routes of the 161 KV transmission lines.

The councilmen went through the original plan dubbed as Option A, which runs along sections of Scott and Nifong Boulevards, Grindstone Parkway, Providence Road and Route K.

The council approved the route in 2013 but decided to put it on halt this January as the residents from the affected neighborhood voiced concerns over impacts on the densely-populated areas, especially near Mill Creek Elementary School on Nifong Boulevard.

The two alternative options, B and B2, which run through the less developed areas, were also brought back on the table. Meanwhile, the council brought up two new routes dubbed as Option C and D respectively for further consideration.

However, the councilmen failed to reach an agreement on which route they should move forward with. 

Michael Trapp, the Second Ward Councilman of Columbia, was not impressed by the new options.

"I continue to support Option A. We looked at Option C and Option D. Both will significantly cost more money. We have to go back to our voters for more money to complete those projects now."

It will cost the city at least $2 million dollars to change the original plan, said Tad Johnsen, director of Columbia Water and Light.

But other councilmen argued to explore other options further to minimize the impact on the residential areas. Mayor Brian Treece proposed another option at the meeting, dubbed as Option E, though that option is not yet on paper.

Dozens of people showed up at the meeting, and one resident from Route K said she is opposed to Option A and would like to see the council look at other options.

"In our area, the utilities are packed in. There's no room for the poles," said Sharon Larson.

Trapp said it will take a few more days for the city staff to look at the options and try to work out a solution.