DECATUR – The pathway toward Macon County’s proposed wind farm will begin with some road work.
An agreement between the county and Twin Forks Wind Farm, the subsidiary of German-based power company E.ON, which will oversee the plan, was unanimously approved Thursday night by the county board.
With the agreement in place, work is expected to begin this summer on the roads around the area where 139 wind turbines are expected to be erected across 24,000 acres near Maroa and Warrensburg.
According to the agreement, Twin Forks would cover the cost of materials and laborers to work on the more than dozen miles of road in the area of the project. The Macon County Highway Department will be responsible for issuing permits and must give approval for specific parts of the construction.
Upgrades to the roads are required before work can be done on the turbines, according to the agreement. Among the work that needs to be done on the roads: strengthening them to allow for heavy loads, widening of lane corners for trucks and installation of of cabling and utility boxes.
Before construction can begin, Twin Forks is responsible for an impact analysis to provide a step-by-step plan for construction and subsequent effect on the area, as well as to mark the areas where underground cables will be placed.
The cost for the project is not provided in the agreement, as bids remain to be sent out to contractors, subcontractors and material suppliers.
Once everything is in line, the hope is that work can be done within 90 days, said Patty Cox, chairwoman of the county’s transportation committee.
Road work is expected to be done despite a lawsuit against the county by residents who live near the proposed wind farm location. Arguments are set to be heard in that case June 22 in the Macon County Courts Facility.
In other business, the board approved approved a memorandum of understanding among the Federal Highway Administration, Illinois Department of Transportation, Macon County and the Illinois State Historical Preservation Officer that would investigate sites of potential historical relevance.
The memorandum would allow additional archaeological surveys and test excavation on nine archaeological sites that represent historic Native American and Euro-American to determine whether the site would be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
If any sites are deemed eligible, the multiple agencies would then attempt to avoid and minimize potential impact. If impact cannot be avoided, then a data-recovery excavation will be conducted by IDOT.
The locations identified consist of old farmhouses and homes, with board Chairman Kevin Greenfield saying after the meeting that the hope was further investigations would not greatly impact the beltway project.
The timing of the work is tied to receiving grant money for the beltway, which Greenfield and Cox said the county is still awaiting word on whether they will receive the money and if they do receive it, when.
Officials have said the study is one of the last steps to be taken before construction can begin.
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