Columbia Gas of Ohio will spend about $3.4 million this summer to replace gas lines on the north side of Springfield, part of a larger effort to upgrade lines statewide.
The utility company has spent about $30 million to replace pipes and gas meters in Springfield since 2008, including a major one in downtown Springfield this past year that resulted in many road closures.
“We’ll all be happy when it’s over,” Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said. “There’s no way for them to replace the gas lines without doing what they’re doing (to the city streets). I understand that, but it’s a pain. I’ll be glad when it’s over.”
The company will upgrade more than five miles of steel pipe on the north side this year, replacing it with plastic pipes for more than 600 customers. The company is also moving meters from the inside to the outside of homes.
The project will be completed on several streets across the north side, including Limestone Street, McCreight Avenue, Oak Knoll Drive and Fairway Drive.
A public meeting will be held to discuss the Limestone Street and McCreight Avenue project at 6 p.m. today at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 712 N. Fountain Ave. Another meeting will be held for the Oak Knoll and Fairway project at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Highlands United Church of Christ, 1910 St. Paris Pike.
Preliminary construction is expected to begin this winter with utility markings and inspection of sewer systems, said Shanelle Hinkle-Moore, external affairs specialist with Columbia Gas.
“While this current pipeline has served us well using cast iron and bare steel pipe, it’s time to modernize it,” Hinkle-Moore said.
Springfield could see more gas line projects in the future with its aging infrastructure, Engineer Leo Shanayda said.
There may be some road closures as part of the projects, but the company will work to minimize disruption as much as possible, Hinkle-Moore said.
Contractors must also use proper traffic control in all areas they’re working, Shanayda said.
Customers will be notified before work is scheduled and interruption typically lasts less than two hours, Hinkle-Moore said. By placing meters on the outside of homes, it makes it more easier for meter readers and first responders, she said.
“It’s a safety enhancement and convenience for our customers,” Hinkle-Moore said.
The project is also a great opportunity for economic development, she said. The process includes upgrading pressure so the lines won’t be a barrier to potential businesses who want to receive service, she said.
“We want to have an infrastructure that’s ready to go,” Hinkle-Moore said.
City staff wants the North Limestone Street project completed before Labor Day to allow the Ohio Department of Transportation to pave a portion of the roadway this summer, Shanayda said.
“That’s the only concern that we have,” he said.
ODOT will spend about $300,000, including $60,000 in local match money, to pave North Limestone Street from College Avenue to Second Street. Last summer, ODOT spent about $900,000, including $100,000 of city money, to pave the road between Second Street and Home Road.
Last year, ODOT completed work on South Limestone Street from Leffel Lane to the former South High School. The city also made base repairs to North Limestone in preparation for this year’s project.
Both the gas project and the paving project along North Limestone Street will be a short-term inconvenience, but likely won’t affect business, said Bill Ardle, owner of Schneider’s Florist, 633 N. Limestone St.
“Whatever happens probably needs to happen and we’ll get by,” Ardle said. “No matter when you do it, someone will be inconvenienced.”
Columbia Gas contractors are still finishing restoration work on a $2.3 million gas line project that closed streets downtown last year. Contractors cannot pour concrete unless the temperature is 40 degrees or greater, Hinkle-Moore said, meaning some work has been completed during recent warm weather.
“All of this is really weather-dependant,” she said.
The company is spending $2 billion over the next 25 years to upgrade gas lines statewide. The cost is shared by all Columbia customers as part of their monthly bill. Local customers aren’t directly responsible for the cost of the upgrades to their street, but over time all customers will see a fee increase as projects are completed across the state.
As projects are completed, Copeland wants the streets to be patched to the same level they were before contractors began the work, he said.
“Some of the patching they’ve done they say is temporary; it better be because it’s not very good,” Copeland said. “That’s what I’ve been pressing on, but I fully understand you can’t get to those pipes unless you get in the street.
“It’s a pain for people and I understand why, I’m driving the same streets as everyone else.”
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