Gas Pipeline Setup Slated to Begin This Month on 99th Street in Long Beach Township

Mar 13, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Homeowners on West Alabama Avenue in Long Beach Township are not happy. Alabama Avenue – 99th Street – was chosen as the point on Long Beach Island where New Jersey Natural Gas will install a secondary natural gas distribution main, an approximately 14,700-foot, directionally-drilled, 12-inch main that crosses under the bay and connects to the end of Dock Road in West Creek.

Last week, residents of this block in the Beach Haven Park section of the township met with representatives from NJNG to gather additional information on the project, which began in West Creek earlier this year, and to voice concerns about the upcoming disruption the work will bring to their neighborhood.

As the utility explained, in 2014 the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities granted approval for NJNG’s New Jersey Reinvestment in System Enhancements (NJ RISE) Program, a five-year, $102.5 million infrastructure investment. “The storm-hardening and mitigation projects under NJ RISE will help minimize the impacts of extreme weather events such as the unprecedented damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, improve NJNG’s service disruption response and strengthen its natural gas distribution system. In addition, NJ RISE supports New Jersey’s directive for improved energy resiliency and preparedness.”

NJ RISE is comprised of six projects, including what is called the “Long Beach Island Reinforcement.” As NJNJG stated in a letter to 99th Street residents, “With the addition of a secondary feed consisting of approximately three miles of new 12-inch diameter steel distribution main under Little Egg Harbor, we will improve the reliability and integrity of the existing system while aiding future restoration efforts by providing redundancy to Long Beach Island and the approximately 10,000 customers we serve there.

“It will also serve as a secondary back feed into Eagleswood Township and municipalities further south.”

NJNG representatives Amy Fitzgerald, manager of government affairs, Joe Puglisi, project engineer, and John Kong, project engineer, addressed the questions and alarm of residents who gathered in the township’s municipal courtroom last Wednesday night. As the representatives first explained, the utility had planned to have the project completed by early 2018, but a change in state administration caused a long delay in the issuance of permits.

Due to the timeline change, work on the Alabama Avenue side of the installation possibly will begin in April, with setup in late March. Drilling operations would take upwards of eight weeks, if all goes well. NJNG plans to return in October for trenching.

During the work, residents can expect directional drilling equipment – a track hoe, pipe trailer, storage trailers, Dumpsters and sound barriers – on their street. Work will typically run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., then likely 24 hours, seven days a week at some point. Gas will be occasionally shut off in coordination with the homeowners.

Residents will be able to access their homes, but some may not be able to park in or near their driveways. Houses adjacent to the construction zone will be given a pre-construction video of the exterior and interior of their homes, and if there is any damage due to the work, claims can be made for a period of two years after the project is complete.

A number of the homeowners in attendance last week asked the NJNG representatives why exactly 99th Street was chosen, when, as one resident pointed out, 97th Street – which had been in contention as the LBI connection point – has many fewer residences.

In short, Pugilisi explained, 99th Street requires about 400 feet less pipe, and the longer the pipe, the more chance for problems.

“To be honest,” Pugilisi admitted, “it’s going to be a little inconvenient.” NJNG representatives, though, will be available and working with the residents. There will also be some “use space agreement” payments, Fitzgerald pointed out.

Township officials also said they would coordinate with the residents to make the project proceed as smoothly as possible for them, including easing various parking restrictions.

The homeowners were extremely displeased that the work is scheduled to run through Memorial Day weekend, and were also worried that the project will continue longer than anticipated. Should the project run as expected, there is nothing the utility can do about Memorial Day weekend; however, NJNG does state that “if it is 100 percent certain that we cannot be completed by the end of June … construction will cease and equipment will be removed prior to the end of June.”

Contact the NJ RISE-LBI Team at 848-206-8302 or njrise@njng.com for more information.

Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

juliet@thesandpaper.net

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