Rain causes PG&E transmission tower to lean

- Weather has been taking its toll on Bay Area hills, and now a slide has hit an unfortunate spot: under a PG&E transmission tower.

Drivers along Highway 24 through Orinda can't help but notice the commotion as they come out of the Caldecott Tunnel.

PG&E has set up on a frontage road, with heavy equipment, helicopters, and workers coming and going.
But the best view of the slide is from above.

Sky Fox on Wednesday flew over the hilltop where the landslide has cut a muddy gash in the slope. There are no roads or homes nearby. But the slide does extend underneath a tall tower, one of many in the hills that hold high voltage lines.

"We are trying to shore up the tower," PG&E spokesperson Hailey Wilson told KTVU.

Asked whether the tower can be saved, Wilson responded, "I don't think it's in danger of not being saved."

Helicopters are lifting and carrying poles to the hilltop to provide  backup- a temporary circuit - should the wires have to come off the threatened tower.

So far, there's no effect on power, but people in Orinda are buzzing about all the activity.

"Any slide anywhere is not good, particularly if your home' or street are in the way, whatever's in the way!" observed resident Jim O'Brien.

The tower is connected to heavy, highly visible lines that drape across all lanes of the freeway, a constant for Contra Costa commuters.

"You can't help but notice them as you drive from a distance," said O'Brien, "because they have these weighted balls on the wires so they don't slap around, so they become a focal point."

Two giant cranes have been positioned on the shoulder of Highway 24- set up so that if  the overhead lines sag or fall, the cranes could catch and hold them aloft.

"Wow, how much fun is that?," reacted Orinda's Dennis Maggiora, hearing why the cranes are in place.

He and other residents, who live on nearby ridges, have a view of the mudslide and are watching the response unfold.

"This morning, I got up and I was able to see that the hillside had slid quite a bit. And the transmission tower had quite a bit of a lean to it," said Maggiora, " a very slight lean and actually leaning away from the freeway, not towards it, so that's good."   

PG&E says the high-voltage lines feed into substations, not customers, so if they were to be de-energized, power could be readily rerouted  

Caltrans is warning, that as long as the transmission tower is in jeopardy, expect intermittent delays on Highway 24 between Wilder Road and the Orinda exit, as utility and construction crews pass through the area.

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