Work continues on Penn State natural gas pipeline

mcarroll@centredaily.comMarch 11, 2014 

Students making their way around the eastern end of campus, hockey fans headed to the new Pegula Ice Arena and families out for a stroll at the Arboretum at Penn State have seen the signs of construction.

Crews are pushing ahead with the installation of new 12-inch, high-pressure pipeline that soon will carry natural gas to the West Campus steam plant.

Work began in October and will continue through August in several stages, getting closer to the heart of campus only after the majority of Penn State students have left for the summer.

Ford Stryker, the university’s vice president for the physical plant, said work remains on schedule and has caused “minimal disruption” so far.

Crews are working on the section of the project designated for construction in winter and spring. It includes a stretch along Hastings Road and University Drive to its intersection with Curtin Road.

Earlier work was done on Porter Road and East Park Avenue.

Stryker said soil that was moved from the earlier stages still can be seen in some locations, such as East Park Avenue. He said the cold winter “has been problematic” for crews, but he expects them to address the spots when things begin to thaw and frost leaves the soil.

The project could cause more disruption as it moves through campus, but most of that work is scheduled to take place over the summer.

Work on that section of the project, which includes the route along Curtin and Burrowes roads, will take place between June and August.

Stryker said the pipeline is expected to be finished sometime in August and that gas could start flowing to the power plant by November.

The pipeline is being installed by Columbia Gas to serve the West Campus steam plant, which will be converted from coal to natural gas to meet federal air quality standards that take effect in 2016

The original pipeline route was planned under State College neighborhood streets, causing outrage among residents who were concerned about safety.

After much negative feedback, Penn State asked Columbia officials to investigate alternate routes, and they chose one that will travel through campus, to the tune of an additional $10 million.

The pipeline now will originate at a current Columbia line near Porter Road, travel to and along University Drive, cross and travel along Park Avenue, turn south on Shortlidge Road, proceed to Curtin Road, and travel along Burrowes Road and, finally, along an alley to connect at the steam plant.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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