Columbia Gas work to replace aging gas lines in Amherst has started
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Columbia Gas work to replace aging gas lines in Amherst has started

Jun 14, 2023

Columbia Gas is beginning work to replace aging gas lines in Amherst.

Work on the Sharondale project began the first week of February.

The project, which will cost $1.6 million, consists of laying 6,000 new feet of pipe affecting 37 properties as well as retiring 3,000 feet of cast iron and steel pipe first laid in the 1950s.

According to Ben Cutler, public relations specialist for Columbia Gas, that project will enter its second phase within three weeks and consists of replacing lines along Leavitt Road.

“It goes without saying, the Leavitt portion of the project is probably going to carry the most heartburn, just given the busy, busy nature of the road,” Cutler said. “Although not to worry, that’s why we’ve worked pretty extensively with the mayor and city engineer on plans for that portion of install to be done in a timely manner.”

The road will not be closed during the renovations, and residents and business located along the project sites can expect full restoration of any disturbed land and infrastructure following the completion, he said.

The second project, which is a much larger task, is called Franklin and will start near the end of April.

It is being split into two phases, Cutler said.

“Franklin is a two-phase project which will be much bigger,” he said. “The cost is about $4 million and will be installing 17,000 new feet of piping as well as retiring about 13,000 feet, and it will affect 306 properties across both phases.”

Both projects are the latest work in a plan that was launched in 2008.

The projects will replace years-old bare steel and cast iron pipe with new plastic fittings that are expected to last the next 100 years, Cutler said.

“Once we are done, we should have less opportunities to have to come back in and fix leaks,” he said. “Plastic doesn’t corrode or leak, and it also has some enhanced safety features like an excess flow valve with automatic shutoffs.”

Residents will not notice a change in pressure, but rather, will see more capacity entering homes.

As for businesses located along the Leavitt portion of the build, the company will work with them to ensure that gas will not be shut off at inconvenient times during the installation, Cutler said.

“One of the most important parts to this project I would say, is the restoration,” he said. “Residents can be assured that property restoration will be completed fully, but I want to stress that these are not short projects.

“There might be at least a couple of months worth of work before proper restoration can take place.”

The project isn’t expected to cause a need for driveway disruptions, but Cutler said he does want residents to know that it’s not a cut-and-dry process.

“We do camera work in addition to abov-ground mapping to get an idea of where the old pipes are, and should be able to bore a pipe through a hole under the driveway for the most part, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer,” he said. “But rest assured, we will notify residents if that is the case, we will make sure they are still able to access their driveways as well as will do a full property restoration once the project is completed.”

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