Company invests $1.4 million to replace gas lines

Urbana project will improve safety, too, fire chief says.

Columbia Gas of Ohio is preparing for a $1.4 million project in Urbana that will install more than two miles of natural gas pipe and affect as many as 350 customers.

Statewide, the company is planning to spend $2 billion over the next 25 years to replace about 4,000 miles of its 20,000-mile pipeline system. The company is also spending about $2.6 million to replace gas lines in the Kenton Street neighborhood of Springfield.

Any improvements in Urbana’s infrastructure should benefit residents, said Doug Crabill, assistant to the director of administration for the city.

“From a safety standpoint, I’m sure that’s a good thing in the long run,” Crabill said.

In Urbana, residents living in the project area will likely notice markers going up this week to determine where underground utility lines are during construction, said Shanelle Hinkle-Moore, a spokeswoman for the company.

The project will cover an area south of East Light Street, north of Washington Avenue, east of North Main Street and west of Lawn Avenue. Residents should receive a notification letter before construction begins. The project is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Gas service will be temporarily shut off for customers, likely for about two to three hours. Customers will also receive notification from the company and will work with customers to find a convenient time to complete the work.

The steel pipes currently underground have been in place for decades and will be replaced with a new special plastic pipe said Hinkle-Moore.

“The plastic pipes won’t corrode,” Hinkle-Moore said. “That’s one of the major benefits that comes with this.”

In addition, indoor meters will be replaced with new meters that will be placed outside the homes at no cost to the customer.

Urbana Fire Division Chief Mark Keller said that will be beneficial to first responders who might have to check or shut off a meter in case of a gas leak. Often, gas leaks occur near the meter rather than along the pipes, and having the meters outdoors will allow for better access for first responders, Keller said.

“Any fire that we have, we shut off the gas as soon as possible to eliminate that hazard,” Keller said.

Overall, Columbia Gas of Ohio serves about 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties. It is the largest natural gas utility in the state.

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