GALLIPOLIS — Columbia Gas of Ohio representatives approached Gallipolis City Commission Tuesday evening to discuss ongoing gas line replacements throughout town as part of a $3.7 million project to update lines that representatives say are as old as 50 or 60 years.
“We went to the Public Utilities Commission (of Ohio) about 10 years ago and said we had a lot of older pipe in Gallipolis and every city around Ohio that we serve,” said Columbus Gas of Ohio Communications and Community Relations Manager Dave Rau. “We knew that we needed to get that taken care of. So, we put together a program with the approval of the Public Utilities Commission to aggressively move to get these older gas systems replaced. We did it in a way customers will get the most value.”
Rau introduced project coordinators who took questions from the public and commissioners after explaining project details.
“We’ve done this in a way where we looked at what systems most need to be replaced,” said Rau. “There’s data that our engineers looked at on where are there leaks, things like soil condition and other factors that tell us what are the gas systems that are at the top of the list. The gas system here in town has served it for a long time, but it’s time for it to be replaced. We’re beginning a project that will do that and last through the year.”
As the project continues, crews will be digging and marking utility lines impacting roughly 430 customers. According to a previous news release given by Columbia Gas, “The work area for phase one is roughly bounded by Neil Avenue on the north, Spruce Street on the west, First Avenue on the south and Sycamore Street on the east. The work area for phase two is roughly bounded by Fifth Avenue on the north, Locust Street on the west, Second Avenue on the south and Pine Street on the east.”
“If there was a way to avoid that, we would,” said Rau. “We don’t want to dig up yards or streets or sidewalks, but unfortunately, that’s what we need to do. When the project is complete, we will make sure things are restored to the way they were before construction and we work hard to make sure that takes place.”
Residents affected by the project have reportedly received an informational letter with contact information and project details to answer questions.
Mainlines will be replaced first in the streets or by sidewalks. Then a few weeks might pass and another crew will come back and hook up homes to the new gas system. That work will involve shutting off gas service for two to four hours or “maybe a little longer” Rau said. If meters are inside the home, crews will move them outside the home for safety purposes as they reportedly have emergency release valves. This is to avoid getting any gas unwanted gas in a structure. Workers will take care of moving piping to new meter locations. When work is done, crews will need access to a home to be able to return service to the structure and inspect lines for safety. Around 62 meters will need moved out of homes.
“It takes around a half hour or 20 minutes usually,” said Rau. “Occasionally we do find a problem. I know people look at it as ‘Hey, everything was fine before you got here.’ What that means though is there was a safety problem you might not have been aware of. I know a lot of cases we turn your service on when you move in and 20 years later we probably haven’t been back. It could be a problem with a line and we’ll do our best to get it fixed…The project is about safety.”
He said there were more serious problems discovered on occasion and a furnace may need to be marked and the furnace would need repaired by a customer before service could be returned to the appliance.
The project will replace roughly 16,000 feet of pipe throughout town.
Customers will reportedly not have to pay extra for the ongoing renovations, informational handouts said. Employees can be identified by marked vehicles and photo identification.Workers may temporarily block driveways or streets. If residents need access to a driveway, they are encouraged to let the crews know so as to safely accommodate a request.
Handout information indicated that questions could be directed to Luke Papalko at 614-420-1376 or emailed to email@example.com.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.