In an emergency, NorthWestern plans to go over creek with new Mitchell route
After moving tons of dirt, a summer project for NorthWestern Energy is changing the landscape around Dry Run Creek and providing some additional access for the company in case of an emergency.
The electric company serving Mitchell and the surrounding area has its supply yard sandwiched between the creek and BNSF’s railroad tracks that run west and east through the city. The supply yard has two entry and exit points, with one on South Capital Street and the other near Hitchcock Park.
BNSF’s tracks are north of the service yard, leaving a potential scenario where NorthWestern’s trucks are unable to leave the yard and respond to a service call.
This summer, NorthWestern began building an emergency bridge and road structure over Dry Run Creek that will allow the company’s service trucks to have another way to access the service building in the case of an emergency.
NorthWestern Energy Community Relations Manager Tom Glanzer said the project started on May 1 and is forecasted to be completed in early November.
The largest part of the project is the massive concrete structures that will allow water to pass under the newly built road. Glanzer said tons of dirt have been excavated and moved to make room for the culvert-like drainage.
NorthWestern already owned the land on the south side of Dry Run Creek to Havens Avenue, where the company has a nearby electrical substation, making the execution of an emergency route of about 800 feet in length possible from Havens to the service yard over Dry Run Creek.
“Every once in a while, the rail line could have a stopped train or a moving train blocking both of the exits to the north,” Glanzer said. “This will provide a way out to the south side. The intent is to only use it in emergency situations or when we have trucks blocked in but it will be very convenient.”
Glanzer said the scope of the project is a large-scale infrastructure project, with engineers working to maintain ecological makeup of the creek area.
“It's beyond a culvert. It’s really more like a concrete waterway. Infrastructure wise, we're doing everything we can to make sure that water and wildlife are protected,” he said.
It is the latest change NorthWestern Energy has made in the southeastern Mitchell neighborhood. In 2017, it moved to a new 300 S. Burr St. office location in 2017 to be closer to its service warehouse and to build a larger, modern customer service center.