Picture the East Channel of south Lake Washington: rolling, tree-covered hills with the Cascade mountains in the distance, Mount Rainier to the south, and the Bellevue skyline to the north. Now picture the scene without any trees between 405 and the lakeshore, and with a miles-long series of 120-foot-tall steel towers supporting high-tension power lines. This is the plan that has been put forward by Puget Sound Energy, and which is currently undergoing a period of public comment. It’s far from an idle concept: the tower sites are being surveyed and marked out already. Trees within 100 feet of the old BNSF rail line are being identified for removal.
So why is this an issue for Mercer Island? Because everyone with an eastern view, or who has property on the eastern shore of the Island, stands to lose significant property value. And everyone on the island will feel the resulting decrease in the island’s tax base. We’ll also lose access to natural space and potentially see increased traffic on the island’s roads. Remember the original plan for the now-abandoned railway? It was to be turned into a nature trail and bike path. Will anyone opt to take a walk or go for a ride under the buzzing power lines? No, the “nature” will be reduced to stumps and the bikers will probably use the Mercer Island loop instead.
It’s critical that we join together in fighting this plan, and our City Council needs to take a position against it. I would urge all Island residents to visit the following website for more information: www.lakecorridor.org/power-lines.html.