Penn State asks Columbia Gas to re-evaluate pipeline route to avoid State College

Penn State is requesting that Columbia Gas re-evaluate alternate routes through campus for the natural gas pipeline that will service the university’s West Campus steam plant conversion from coal.

The news came via a university press release at 10:20 p.m. Thursday.

Columbia’s plan proposed the new pipeline connect to an existing line off Porter Road, travel under Bellaire and Prospect avenues and South Burrowes Street, and to the plant, at Burrowes and College Avenue.

Residents along the route have spent hours strongly opposing the line to the State College Borough Council, Columbia and Penn State. Responding to the outcry, the council directed Manager Tom Fountaine to not issue Columbia the permit necessary to begin construction. Fountaine followed that direction.

Penn State said in the release it also is responding to resident concerns.

“Officials from Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant, who attended the (April 1 Borough Council) meeting and listened to concerns from residents, have since asked Columbia to re-evaluate alternatives that would route the pipeline completely through Penn State property between Porter Road and the West Campus (s)team (p)lant,” the release said.

Russell Bedell, a spokesman for Columbia, said late Thursday that the company received Penn State’s request and that the project designers will need several weeks to address it.

“Regardless of whether the route went through State College ... or through the campus, safety remains the top priority for Columbia Gas in the design of our pipeline projects,” he said.

Bedell said Columbia continues to welcome questions from the borough community on the project, but that he could not comment on Columbia’s handling of the borough’s non-issuance of the construction permit.

“We’re continuing to evaluate that situation,” he said.