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Power Lines + Helicopters = Weekend Traffic Delays In March

man on a helicopter with wires crossing the image
Duke Energy
Duke Energy crews will use helicopters to replace a high voltage power line that spans I-275 and the Ohio River.

Duke Energy is replacing a major Tri-State power line this month. The work requires way more than the usual bucket truck and will cause delays on I-275 in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

Crews will spend the first three weekends in March - possibly longer depending on weather, etc. - installing an upgraded high voltage 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line stretching from the Miami Fort Station in North Bend, Ohio, to Tanners Creek in Lawrenceburg, Ind. Helicopters will be used to rebuild the four-mile power line spanning both I-275 and the Ohio River.

"This work is unique for us," explains Sally Thelen, a spokesperson for Duke Energy. "This transmission line has been in operation for decades, probably close to 40 years. With some of the increased capacity we have on our system, they're nearing the end of their useful life. It's going to be some complicated and challenging work."

The new line and modernized equipment will provide extra capacity to meet growing demand, according to Duke Energy.

The work necessitates tall bucket trucks and transmission trucks with tall booms to get to the tops of the transmission towers, and helicopters to carry equipment and pull the lines.

"Helicopters for us, it's safer - you might not imagine it being safer - but by using helicopters to pull the heavier lines and bringing across some of the equipment that needs to get up on top of the towers, it's much safer."

Thelen says using helicopters also costs less and takes less time.

The helicopters must be used during daylight hours for safety reasons. That means drivers will see 45-minute rolling roadblocks where traffic on the western stretch of I-275 in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky will be slowed to 10 mph in both directions. This will alternate with 45 minutes of normal flow. The work is scheduled largely between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The roadblocks stretch between the Cleves exit on I-275 and I-74, and the Minneola Pike exit on I-275 in Erlanger.

Work is scheduled for weekends, March 6-21, with a backup weekend of March 27-28 if necessary. Duke says the following I-275 ramps will be closed during the work windows:

  • Belleview Drive entering I-275 South (Indiana)
  • Kilby Road entering I-275 South (Ohio)
  • Route 8 (Bullitsburg Church Road) entering I-275 North (Kentucky)
  • Highway 212 (Terminal Dr) entering I-275 North (Kentucky)
  • Highway 237 (N Bend Rd) entering I-275 North (Kentucky)
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.