By Stephanie Choate
Construction began in Williston this week on the Vermont Gas Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project.
Workers have been clearing some trees on the right of way along Mountain View and Redmond roads. This week, they began delivering piping. Crews will lay the piping along the roads, weld it together, dig a trench and bury the pipe.
Project manager Charlie Pughe said the project should have little effect on traffic.
“There may be some times where there will be some impact to traffic, but I would expect it to be relatively minor,” he said.
Trucks will bring in more piping as needed to the staging area at the former Williston Driving Range on Route 2—likely two to four truckloads coming up from New Jersey per day—but shouldn’t hold up traffic more than the occasional light cycle, Pughe said.
Vermont Gas set up its staging area for the project at the former driving range in the spring, as reported in the May 22 edition of the Observer. All materials and piping for the project will go through the staging area, which will be set up until next summer.
Workers are organizing piping on the western side of the staging area. On the eastern side, workers are coating some of the piping with cement. Since some of the pipeline will run through wetlands and natural gas is lighter than air, it needs to be weighted down.
The project, brought before the town in 2012, will bring natural gas from Colchester to Middlebury and Vergennes through an underground high-pressure pipeline, passing through Essex, Williston, St. George and Hinesburg. The pipeline will roughly follow the planned route of the defunct Circumferential Highway.
Construction is starting in Williston on Mountain View and Redmond roads. Simultaneously, workers are building a new gate station on Route 2, just east and across the street from the Williston Fire Department. The gate station will connect to the Williston distribution system and increase reliability, Pughe said.
Next week, contractor ECI will begin boring under the Winooski River.
Pughe expects the Mountain View and Redmond roads portion to be completed in the next several weeks. Construction crews will then begin working to connect to the Williston gate station and heading north to Colchester.
Pughe said project organizers hope to have the section from Colchester to the Williston gate station completed by the end of this construction season in November. Next year, they will begin heading south. Pughe expects to reach Middlebury by the end of next summer, and Vermont Gas hopes to deliver natural gas by the 2015-16 winter.
Once the pipeline is completed and workers leave the staging area, there will be few visible signs that they were there. Crews laid down fabric over the grass and put gravel on top of it. So once construction is completed next summer, workers will scrape up and recycle the gravel, roll up the fabric and allow the grass to regrow.
The only above-ground portion of the project is the gate station on Route 2, which will be mostly shielded from the road by trees.
The Vermont Public Service Board approved the 41-mile natural gas pipeline, known as Phase I of the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project, in December. Preliminary planning for Phase II, an extension of the transmission line to Ticonderoga, N.Y., is underway.
Vermont Gas received its final permits for Phase I earlier this month.
Vermont Gas is working with the town of St. George to finalize easements for the portion of the pipeline passing through St. George. Part of the easement agreement includes bringing distribution service to St. George by 2017.
Vermont Gas has approximately 3,000 customers in Williston, both residential and commercial users, and operates more than 58 miles of distribution piping in town.