n the second week of January, residents along the eastern section of the Washington & Dominion Regional Trail will see crews of workers cutting down trees along the walking path.
Transmission lines on the trail run from the Pleasantview substation just east of Leesburg to the eastern county line and into Fairfax County. Trimming is part of the company's regular maintenance, said spokesperson Le-Ha Anderson.
Dominion generally trims on a three-year cycle. Since the ice storm of 1999, the recent hurricanes and the August 2003 blackout, scrutiny on Dominion's maintenance from the State Corporation Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electrical Reliability Council has intensified, Anderson said.
Workers will identify "danger trees" that are rotten or decayed, touch a power line or even come close to a power line.
Trees too close can cause an "arcing effect" where power jumps from the line, through the tree and into the ground, said to Anderson.
"That can cause a fatality," she said.
THE TRIMMING could cause significant changes in the view along the trail, and many walkers and cyclists may not be happy, Anderson warned.
"It is not arbitrary tree removal," she said. "It may appear that way to someone who's walking the trail."
Dominion will remove trees in its right of way and approach homeowners for approval when trees rest on their property before proceeding with removal.
The company plans to replace trees with species that will not grow to heights that could endanger the lines.
"There may be some locations that are not pretty, but we have a responsibility to make sure power lines are clear so we don't have any public safety hazards," Anderson said.
Anderson added that the company hopes to complete trimming by May.
<1b>— Suzannah Evans