BulkTransmission/Access and Transportation

From Open Energy Information

Transmission Access and Transportation

Access and Transportation
Present, Potentially Affected

To access the transmission sites and to transport construction materials, the developer must comply with current federal, state, county and city road regulations. The preference is for existing roads to become access roads to eliminate or reduce the number of new roads that need to be constructed for the project’s operation. All roads must be a part of the project’s initial design to prevent conflicts with visual resource management teams. Roads must be monitored and maintained under a management plan established by the developer.

Typical management plans include:

  • Traffic Control Plans identify the road locations that would experience temporary closures from construction activities including air traffic. They would also identify where flag personnel, warning signs, lights, barricades, and cones would be positioned to provide safe work areas and to warn, control, protect, and expedite vehicular and pedestrian traffic. These plans are sent to local jurisdictions 30 days prior to construction.
  • Construction Transportation Plans describe the alternate traffic routes, rush hour commute routes, options to reduce crew-related traffic, and other mitigation methods to reduce additional construction-generated traffic on regional and local roadways.

Obtaining the appropriate right-of-way (ROW) and encroachment permit allows new transmission projects to pass over, through, or under existing projects. Examples can include railroads, highways, military lands, energy development, and mining claims.

Access and Transportation Impacts & Mitigation

Transmission construction activities impact transportation patterns and access road locations. These changes can result in vehicle accidents, traffic jams, and increased noise to nearby residents. The following mitigation measures demonstrate how to decrease proposed site impacts.

Local traffic

  • Schedule industrial traffic to arrive and depart during non-peak local traffic times
  • Decrease accidents by posting signs before the site to warn of oncoming trucks, and signs after the site thanking patrons for their compliance.
  • Predict what kind of road alterations need to take place to withstand overweight and oversized industrial vehicles (i.e. widening roads and reinforcing bridges);
  • Create a timeline to predict how long traffic patterns will be affected.


  • Notify nearby residents or businesses of the daytime hours the noise will be in effect.
  • Coordinate schedules with nearby businesses to diminish the disturbance during their operating hours.


  • Temporarily halt work where wet conditions cause excessive rutting (>3 inches deep) in roads and work areas.
  • Set an onsite speed limit to decrease fugitive dust and wildlife disturbance and collisions.
  • Take appropriate measures to keep wildlife or cattle out of construction sites such as fencing and cattle guards.
  • All fences, gates, and walls would be replaced, repaired, or reclaimed to their original condition if damaged during construction.
  • Temporary gates or supplementary enclosures would only be installed with landowner or agency permission.

Access Roads

  • Blading is typically prohibited for new access roads in select construction and operation areas.
  • Use existing crossings at perennial streams, designated recreational trails, and irrigation channels.
  • Alternate access routes using off-road or cross-country paths must be approved by the authorizing agency, but are encouraged, as this would minimize ground disturbance impacts. These routes must be flagged with visible markers.
  • Use drive-and-crush or cut-and-clear techniques in areas where no grading would be needed to access work areas. Drive-and-crush methods decrease vegetation impacts, as it is crushed instead of cropped. The soil is compacted, but not removed, which decreases restoration tasks. Cut-and-clear methods include trimming vegetation, while leaving the roots in the ground. This allows site access without reseeding upon site decommissioning.
  • In areas where soils and vegetation are particularly sensitive to disturbance, existing access roads would be repaired only in areas where they are otherwise impassable or unsafe.


  • To decrease long-term roadway damage, return all roadways to their previous condition.
  • Reseed, regrade, install cross drains and water bars, fill ditches and recontour areas where surface disturbance occurred.
  • Store topsoil offsite and use after regrading has occurred. To decrease erosion impacts, refrain from stockpiling or spreading loose soil in stream channels.


  • Hillside slopes cannot be steeper than 3:1 and cannot be filled more than 2:1. This decreases the likelihood of mudslides, avalanches, and flooding. To further decrease rutting and erosion, limit road access in the wet season.
  • Runoff water needs to be diverted into a sediment-trapping mechanism to prevent flow into intermittent or perennial waterways. Mitigation structures include: water bars, berms, drainage ditches, and sediment ponds. These structures allow the water to flow at a slower constant rate to places that can retain a large volume of water. This is especially important in the event of a flood or heavy precipitation.

Factors Affecting Access and Transportation

Soil types impact project compatibility and longevity as it creates a foundation. Understanding which type is available in the proposed site can guide construction activities.

Soil Types

Sand, silt and clay are the 3 common types of soil. Most often, the soil type is a hybrid of 2 or 3 categories. Sand has the largest particles, while clay has the smallest. These 3 categories are consequently broken up into 12 different soil types that are classified by their physical, chemical or biological properties. Soil types are measured by how much water they can hold, therefore, knowing the soil type of the site is important because it can reveal how well the roads will be supported.