Towers of power

By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 


Fans of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s DeKorte Park took notice when the NJMC recently announced that the Saw Mill Creek Trail has been closed and will likely remain so until next year.

Readers unfamiliar with the wildlife preserve might have just shrugged.

But, lo and behold, it turns out the closure is part of a multimillion-dollar energy project that affects most of our Observer towns. It’s called the Northeast Grid Reliability Project, it’s costing an estimated $907 million, and PSE&G has been working on it since 2012. Completion is projected for June 2015.

Your correspondent admittedly noticed PSE&G workers busy at the power lines on Main St. in Belleville for some months now but never thought to make inquiries. It was the NJMC announcement that caught our attention, and we have since learned much.

The power lines — their towers long a part of the landscape in Kearny, Lyndhurst, North Arlington, Belleville, Nutley and Bloomfield — are being upgraded along a 50-mile route extending from Roseland to Jersey City.

According to PSE&G, the project will increase the utility’s power service in northern New Jersey from the current 138kV to 230kV “on existing overhead transmission lines to comply with requirements set by . . . the regional energy grid.”

Power-line towers in Nutley, Belleville and Bloomfield were originally designed for 230kV power and therefore will not be replaced, PSE&G said.

Towers reportedly will be replaced in Kearny and Lyndhurst.

The overhead transmission portion of the project also includes new towers designed to withstand winds of up to 105 mph, the utility noted.

In addition, there will be power station upgrades to the Cook Road Substation in Nutley, Kingsland Station in North Arlington and both the Turnpike Station and Kearny Switching Station in Kearny.

“This project,” PSE&G reports, “will help ensure reliable electric power for nearly 1 million New Jersey businesses and residents that require increased electric capacity, increase transfer capability, provide better power quality and reduce transmission system congestion.”

As in Belleville, expect to see small fleets of PSE&G trucks parked in the power line’s right-of-way. Which is one of the reasons the Saw Mill Creek Trail in DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst, is now closed.

There are other hazards. The NJMC’s Meadowlands Nature Blog ( has added a warning — DANGER: KEEP OFF THE SAW MILL CREEK TRAIL! It explains: “This will be a very dangerous construction site, with high-voltage wires. There are no exceptions to this prohibition.

“In short: Keep out.”

Could this be any clearer?

Good nature news from DeKorte is that the current project will include upgrades to the trail, which was badly damaged in Superstorm Sandy.

Additionally, this past Monday reconstruction work was to begin on the Marsh Discovery Trail — the one with the long “floating” boardwalk — which also suffered mightily from Sandy. Further info and updates can be found on

And if you are not sure which trail is which, a map can be found at

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