Trustees concerned with gas main work

CALCUTTA – At the bi-weekly meeting on Tuesday, St. Clair Township trustees expressed concern over the way Columbia Gas has been conducting a gas main replacement project in Glenmoor and the condition in which roads are left afterwards.

Trustees and township Road Foreman Scott Barrett said they have received numerous complaints from township residents about the condition of the roads due to Columbia Gas’s gas main replacement project. The project is an effort by Columbia Gas to update aging gas infrastructure and encompasses some 21 streets in the Glenmoor area.

“I assured them we would be monitoring that, but right now it’s hard to do anything,” said Trustee James Sabatini.

Trustees said they and Barrett will have the final say as to whether or not roadways are sufficiently repaired following the gas main replacements. They explained that Columbia Gas has granted them one year after the project is completed to request repairs to the roads. However, Barrett says there is some confusion among his department as to how exactly this process works.

“We don’t know if we wait until they’re done or if we’re supposed to be signing off road-to-road or as the job ends,” said Barrett.

Trustee Chairman Robert Swickard noted the gas replacement project has also created traffic issues. He said he has witnessed Columbia Gas contractors working without road flaggers or signs warning motorists of the road work. Barrett said he has spoken to Columbia Gas representatives who assured him they would contact the township police department about road closures and traffic issues.

Police Chief Don Hyatt, who was at Tuesday’s meeting, said his department has never been contacted about these matters. Barrett noted that the exception to this seeming lack of communication has been in regard to metal plates the gas company lays across the road. He said he has been consistently informed about the location of these plates so his department’s snow plows can avoid them.

Trustees said communication between the township and Columbia Gas has been lacking since the project began in December.

“I keep telling them to call me with their problems,” said Barrett. “At this point, we can’t do anything because we don’t know where they’re at and how much longer they have to go.”

“We won’t know until spring what’s really bad because you can’t really see it. They can’t fix anything (roads) now anyway because everything is going to settle. So we’re going to wait until they’re done and go over it and then wait our one year out and make them come back.”

Barrett says it is unlikely the roads damaged by the project will be re-chip and sealed by Columbia Gas and, due to funding, the township road department can only chip and seal each road once every six years. The roads about which trustees most recently have received complaints are Walker Road and Lyle Street as well as John and Wyoming avenues. Trustees say that prior to the gas main replacement project these roads were in good shape.

“I think they should be held accountable for all this damage,” said Trustee James Hall. “Let’s face it, those roads were in good shape when they started.”

Barrett claims that Columbia Gas officials had said at the outset of the project that their crews would bore underneath the road when possible to minimize damage. The frozen ground and obstructions on the sides of the roadways prevented the crews from using this method, according to Barrett.

Trustees and Barrett agreed that the best course of action would be to call another meeting with Columbia Gas officials and talk over their concerns.