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The natural gas pipeline that has been installed through the heart of Cheshire is just about finished, with just a few paving projects left to be completed.
The Waterbury-To-Wallingford Pipeline Project stretches through Cheshire along Waterbury Road, West Main Street, Route 10, and Academy Road. The $67 million project is adding reliability and flexibility to the lines, company officials claimed. For months, crews, as many as four at a time, were working in various parts of Cheshire. Moving at around 100 feet per day, machines ripped up portions of the road and, at times, slowed traffic and created detours. Business owners located along West Main Street complained recently about congestion and detours that, for months, had left them struggling to attract customers. Yankee Gas officials have been mum on the subject, however, as some have suggested a potential lawsuit could be filed by the affected businesses.
In regards to the pipeline work, however, Michael Veneski, communications manager with Yankee Gas, said things went rather well as the project continued ahead of schedule.
"We felt the project went very smoothy," he said. "It was ahead of schedule pretty much the whole time and there were no major setbacks along the way."
The project involved digging up portions of the road or sidewalk and replacing the current piping with new, 16-inch pipes. New equipment was also added to increase the capacity of natural gas, including areas of Cheshire. While the project will not be entirely finished until this time next year, parts of Cheshire will see an increase in natural gas within as early as this month. The increased availability of natural gas capacity could benefit residents, but it could also help the Town save money, officials stated.
The Town could look to use more natural gas to heat schools or to add new technology to the community pool in a long term cost-saving measure. Crews were testing the lines over the last two weeks and, according to Veneski. they went off without a hitch.
"The tests are the initial phase of commissioning and they went well," Veneski explained. "The pressure tests have already been done and we purged air from the pipe last week, which also went well."
In terms of what's left for Yankee Gas, there is still some milling and paving work to do in various parts of town. When the company installs a gas line, it puts a temporary patch, around five feet wide, to cover the trench. After it sits for a month or two, the entire lane is paved over to allow for smoother traffic flow. Veneski explained that this has already been done in Cheshire in some areas, but others have not had time to settle.
"Some temporary patches are on and they need to settle," he explained. "We'll come back and mill and pave half the road, from the center line to the curb. The trench is only five or six feet wide, but we'll cover the entire roadway."
Additionally, there is roughly 200 feet of trenching work to be finished on West Main Street near Railroad Avenue, but the company has to wait for the Department of Transportation. Next summer, the state DOT plans to shut down the road for a long weekend to replace the culvert that is under the surface and, until that project starts, the pipeline will have this 200 foot gap, Veneski explained. This gap only allows gas to flow from the Town center towards the Wallingford border, he said.
More information on the project can found online at www.ygpipeline.com or by calling (877) 995-7473.