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It took just minutes Tuesday for the City Council to join other area governments in opposing construction of a high-voltage power line through the Baraboo area.

Council members assembled for a second discussion of a proposed 345,000-volt Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project put forward by the American Transmission Company. The council considered a resolution on the issue in July, but Alderman Tom Kolb asked that it be amended to strengthen the council's objections.

The Badger Coulee Line is proposed to take electrical power 150 miles from La Crosse to the Madison area. ATC has published a variety of routes it might take, including routes that follow U.S. Highway 12 past Baraboo either over the Baraboo Bluffs or curving to the east just south of the city.

Other routes for the line's 150-foot-wide corridor follow Interstate 90/94 or even run as far east as Columbia County.

The original resolution expressed concern that a route following Highway 12 would interfere with airport operations, and recommended the power line follow the interstate.

Kolb's stronger version of the resolution also questions the need for the line, particularly whether it has any economic benefit for this part of the state.

"ATC is putting the cart before the horse," Kolb said. "Publicly, they haven't ever demonstrated the need for it."

After brief discussion over some issues of wording, the resolution was approved unanimously by council members.

Other local governments - including Sauk County, the town of Baraboo and village of West Baraboo - have opposed running the power line through the Baraboo Bluffs.

Lynx project approved

Council members also unanimously approved a $250,000 contract with Friede & Associates of Reedsburg to build a Canadian lynx habitat at the Ochsner Park Zoo.

Because it is specialized work, Friede & Associates was the only one of five contractors that examined the project to actually bid for the job, said Mike Hardy, director of Parks and Recreation. The habitat will have no cost for the city because it is being paid for by the Friends of the Baraboo Zoo volunteer group.

Work on the habitat is expected to begin after Labor Day and be done by Thanksgiving, Hardy said.

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