The Algonquin Gas Transmission J-2 Loop project is set to begin in Ward Four of Somerville next Monday. This project will add an additional 2.3 miles of subterranean piping for natural gas distribution throughout the city of Somerville. In anticipation of the onset of construction, the City of Somerville and representatives from Algonquin Gas Transmissions LLC hosted a community meeting on Monday night. The purpose of the meeting was to explain in detail where and when construction will be occurring, and why this project is necessary for Somerville.
Taking place at the Elizabeth Peabody House, located at 277 Broadway, the meeting space was filled with explanatory pamphlets and alignment sheets conveying the street plans for the construction. Ward Four Alderman Walter Pero opened the meeting by stressing how important this project is for Somerville. "It is a very big project that is coming right through Ward Four," Pero explained, "but it is going to be a major upgrade for the city."
A representative from Algonquin Gas Transmissions LLC, John Bonsol, explained the development and the nature of the project itself. Waltham based Algonquin Gas Transmissions LLC, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy, filed an application for this project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in April of 2008. FERC is an independent agency employed by the US Congress to regulate the interstate transmission of natural gas. Throughout the United States, every project of this nature must go through FERC before going ahead.
On April 14th 2008, the first community meeting to discuss the project was hosted by Algonquin. "We've tried to be very proactive in communicating with the public throughout every step of this project," Bonsol said. Since last April there have been numerous meetings for community members to voice their concerns.
The J-2 pipeline will connect with existing natural gas lines at two points, creating a loop of natural gas pipes throughout Somerville. The benefits of such a loop are many.
"This will be a more reliable supply of natural gas," explained David Neal, the project manager for the J-2 Loop. "It will become a redundant pipeline which will increase capacity. We'll also be able to do some integrity work on the existing line."
Currently there is no simple way to perform integrity work on existing pipelines without shutting off gas temporarily. With the J-2 Loop in place, the older parts of the pipeline could be shut down for repairs while the newer pipeline would continue the regular supply of gas to the community.
The new pipeline will start in Medford and continue down parts of Mystic Avenue, Temple Street, Broadway, School Street, Medford Street and eventually end at the McGrath Bridge. Construction will take place along sections of all these streets. But residents should not worry - the entire construction process will be in the streets and shoulders. "There will be no construction on anybody's property," Neal reassured concerned citizens.
Construction of the pipeline will follow "The Stovepipe Construction Technique," which involves excavating 40 ft long trenches, lowering the pipe into the trench, soldering the pipes, and then backfilling the trench. Neal expects they will be able to install 40 ft of piping per day.
When asked about the hours of construction, Neal explained that construction will take place from 7am to 7pm on weekdays and 8am to 7pm on Saturdays. "If you hear noise before 7 o clock, call your Alderman or call City Hall," added Alderman Pero. If any resident has a question or complaint about construction, they can call the IRC Landowner Hotline at 1-800-470-9333.
In addition to the new piping, streets that are subject to construction will be receiving new pavement, curbs and sidewalks. Construction on the J-2 Loop will begin next Monday, May 4th, and is expected to be completed by Labor Day.