Aurora officials say installation of FirstEnergy lines has led to 'nuisance' of ATVs and motorcycles in area

By Ken Lahmers
Special to the Aurora Advocate
This view looking east from Route 306 shows clearing that has taken place along the former Norfolk Southern Railroad line in preparation for new electricity transmission lines.

AURORA – Installation of FirstEnergy’s electric transmission lines down the former Norfolk Southern Railroad corridor is underway, and the subject of security along the route came up at City Council’s April 12 meeting.

Ward 5 Councilwoman Kathi Grandillo mentioned some residents have reported to her that many people riding vehicles such as ATVs and motorcycles have been sighted in the areas where trees, brush and old tracks are being removed.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Reva Barner said a Tara at Barrington resident contacted her to ask what is going on adjacent to the Great Northern Fence Co. on Treat Road, and Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin responded that is part of the construction project.

Law Director Dean DePiero explained construction has resulted in the corridor becoming “an attractive nuisance” for small vehicles, and the city is working with FirstEnergy and the Barrington Homeowners Association to secure the area.

DePiero said signs have been posted and barricades have been installed to try to limit access, and police are keeping a close eye on the area. “The chief has already talked to some people [riding small vehicles] there,” he said.

This view looking east shows where a road has been created along the proposed electricity transmission lines at the northern edge of the city's Paddock River Preserve (the former Aurora Country Club).

“We’re trying to be vigilant at this point, and are taking remedial measures, including using technology [to monitor traffic],” he continued. “Once the project is completed, the corridor will be more closed to that type of activity.”

Councilman Scott Wolf said he has heard that FirstEnergy has occasionally posted guards at night, while Ward 1 Councilman Jim Vaca added, “Unfortunately, you have to expect this [construction] will bring that type of activity.”

A FirstEnergy spokesman told the city’s planning commission last fall the lines will run along about 5 miles of the abandoned rail corridor between substations near the Cantex plant on Chamberlain Road in Mantua Township and Treat Road.

Known as the Northern Portage Reliability Project, he said the project will strengthen the electricity grid for about 9,700 customers. Trees are slated to be planted along certain stretches to screen the lines from the view of adjacent residents.

ROAD RESURFACING

Council awarded the 2021 road resurfacing contract to Ronyak Paving. Inc. at $1.11 million. Money will come from the road and bridge levy, street construction and maintenance, city operations and capital improvement funds.

Portions or all of the following roads will receive attention: Chelmsford and Cascades drives; Centerville, Birchbark and East Pioneer trails; Mill Run, East and East Parkway boulevards; New Hudson and Squires roads; Brandon Circle; Plymouth and Weymouth places; Aurora Industrial Parkway; and Cedar Bark.

Work also will be done on the parks department maintenance building roadway and at the Tails & Trails Dog Park on Page Road and Brown-Keidel Service Center entrance.

PURCHASES APPROVED

Council OK’d the purchase of three 2021 Chevrolet Tahoes from Ganley Chevrolet for the police department at a net cost of $84,262. Three older vehicles will be traded in. Equipment for the Tahoes will be provided by Hall Public Safety Upfitters for $41,552.

Partially with remaining money from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, 14 sets of firefighter turnout gear will be purchased from Fire Force Inc. for $34,600, while a snow and ice package for a one-ton dump truck will be purchased from Henderson Equipment for $63,718.

Contact the newspaper at auroraadvocate@recordpub.com.

CUTLINES

This view looking east from Route 306 shows clearing that has taken place along the former Norfolk Southern Railroad line in preparation for new electricity transmission lines.  KEN LAHMERS

This view looking east shows where a road has been created along the proposed electricity transmission lines at the northern edge of the city's Paddock River Preserve (the former Aurora Country Club).  KEN LAHMERS