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$2.6M project updates Springfield gas lines

Work will improve safety, Columbia Gas says.

Columbia Gas of Ohio will spend approximately $2.6 million to replace gas lines in the Kenton Street neighborhood beginning this month.

The pipeline improvement project will replace more than three miles of mainline and 508 customer lines in the area. The project will replace steel pipe with specially designed plastic pipe. The project is expected to be completed by fall.

It is part of Columbia’s $2 billion, 25-year project to replace 4,000 miles of steel pipe with plastic pipe, which began in 2008.

“It’s a way we can efficiently replace the pipe with long-lasting, reliable pipe,” Hinkle-Moore said.

Customers with internal meters will also have them moved outside, which requires a temporary interruption of service. The meters need moved outdoors to allow first responders better access in case of emergencies.

The area covers south of Kenton Street, north of Kenwood Avenue, east of East Street and west of Beacon Street.

“We’re starting west and we’re moving east,” said Shanelle Hinkle-Moore, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas.

The company will contact customers prior to service shut-off and restoration. The maximum disruption time is approximately two hours.

“We work with customers to find the best time to do that,” Hinkle-Moore said.

The replacements will be made at no extra cost to the customer. Also, any landscaping issues, such as digging in backyards, will be restored as weather permits.

“I’m all for it,” said Mike Robbins, the president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations. “Anything to help our people, as long as they don’t charge us an arm and a leg for it.”

He believes the new pipes and outdoor meters will make the area safer.

“It’s money back into the community, and I think it’s a very wise investment,” Robbins said.

Springfield Fire/Rescue Division Chief Nick Heimlich said moving the meters outdoors will be key when responding to gas leaks. He said larger leaks from outdoor pipes can often follow into homes, and the outdoor meters will keep that from happening.

“It’s absolutely a good thing,” Heimlich said. “It creates a break between the underground line and the inside of the structure, so there’s not this direct point like your water line.”

The outdoor meters also allow for easier repairs to be made, meaning residents will not need to be home.

“It can be a real inconvenience for folks,” said Ken Stammen, communications and community relations for Columbia Gas.

Stammen said they’ll work with customers regarding meter locations. The new meters will also operate at higher pressure and require a regulator valve.

“For safety reasons, we don’t that regulator valve inside,” Stammen said.

The steel pipes are prone to corrosion, Hinkle-Moore said. The only natural substance which can harm plastic pipe is sunlight. The plastic is bright yellow, making it more visible to people digging near pipe.

“It’s very durable that way,” Hinkle-Moore said.

Local businesses said the meter replacement shouldn’t be a problem.

“With it being nicer outside, I don’t think it’s going to affect us,” said Tammi Anderson, office manager at Bennett and Bennett, 1318 Kenton Street. “We’re starting to use less gas this time of the year anyway.”

Bennett and Bennett is a local cleanroom and static control supply company. Anderson said the company recently received a letter about the service disruption. Anderson’s lone concern is the work affecting traffic flow in the area, but doesn’t see it being a problem.

She also believes the investment is good for the area.

“If they need to replace it to keep everything going well, that’s what they need to do,” Anderson said.

Columbia Gas serves approximately 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The company has about 20,000 miles of pipe underground.

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