St. Lukes decides not to cut through bicycle path
Idaho Power and hospital look for ways to route power
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Power lines near
the Kentwood Lodge could very well be put underground if the Ketchum City Council has its
way when Idaho Power routes power to the new St. Lukes Hospital in McHanville. The
front utility pole is the southern juncture between high load and medium load power lines.
(Express photo by Willy Cook)
St. Lukes Hospital officials, apparently taking into
consideration community sentiment, have decided not to cut through Wood River
Valleys bicycle path during construction of the new hospitals water and sewer
Separately, new electric power lines and power poles, to be channeled
to the hospitals McHanville site, may be routed through downtown Ketchum.
On the bike path issue, hospital engineers told the countys
recreation district, which has jurisdiction over the bike network, that temporary
trenching through the path would be less expensive than boring under it.
Bill Bodnar, Boise-based spokesman for the hospital, said the bike path
decision to use a more expensive boring route was made Monday morning.
"Anytime you have a project like this you have to consider how you
can reduce any negative impact (in the community)," he said in a telephone
Bodnar, the hospitals vice president for corporate development,
said that boring under the bike path would occur at five separate locations so that nearby
wetlands areas wouldnt be disturbed.
Trenching through the path to reach the areas sewage plant had
caused Mary Austin Crofts, the countys recreation district director, to say the
operation could cause paving problems.
On the issue of bringing power to the hospital, Dan Olmstead, Idaho
Power community relations representative, said St. Lukes will need electric power by
next fall, and that means upgrades to power lines on one of two routes will be necessary.
Upgrades will involve installing a heavier wire, capable of carrying
more power, and installing additional power poles to accommodate the weight of the heavier
The hospitals power can be supplied by either the Waterwheel
substation, on the south side of Sun Valley Road near Sun Valley Co.s
Horsemans Center, or by the Elkhorn substation, on the Elkhorn golf course.
If supplied by the Waterwheel substation, the existing overhead power
lines would need to be upgraded between Walnut Avenue Mall and the southeast corner of the
Kentwood Lodge in Ketchum. If supplied by the Elkhorn substation, upgrades to the
substation itself may be necessary, Olmstead said, adding that Idaho Power engineers are
still ironing out wrinkles in the Elkhorn option.
Olmstead said Idaho Power prefers the Waterwheel alternative for two
First, the majority of the existing power lines between the Waterwheel
substation and the new St. Lukes site can already support the electric loads the
hospital will require. Its the route with the least amount of line to replace,
Second, he said, the through-Ketchum method would cost less. He
explained that it is Idaho Powers policy to offer customers the cheapest
alternatives, and St. Lukes is paying for upgrades to the power lines in this case.
Olmstead said it will cost $50,000 to $70,000 to replace the section of
line between Walnut Avenue Mall and the Kentwood Lodge. But if upgrades to that section of
power line are carried out, its likely that the Ketchum City Council will require
the lines to be put underground. If those lines were to be put underground, the cost would
jump to between $150,000 and $200,000, Olmstead said.
At a city council meeting last week, Councilman David Hutchinson said
the power lines will either be buried through Ketchum or power will be supplied from
"That ought to give you a pretty good indication of how its
going to go," he said.
The city of Ketchum currently does not have a franchise agreement with
Idaho Power. Such agreements allow the power provider to operate in the citys rights
of way without consultation with the city. As part of an effort to make such an agreement,
the Ketchum City Council is negotiating with Idaho Power to have all of the citys
power lines eventually put underground.
In the absence of the agreement, Idaho Power will have to go to the
city council for approval of any modifications or upgrades to power lines made within the
citys rights of way.