NJNG to Propose New Secondary Gas Line Under Bay From West Creek to LBI

Oct 19, 2016

Regarding a proposed new natural gas pipeline to keep Long Beach Island cooking in the event of another disaster on the scale of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, a scoping hearing was held in Eagleswood Township last week wherein Project Manager David Tanzi of engineering and environmental consulting firm CDM Smith, for New Jersey Natural Gas, presented the proposed Long Beach Island Reinforcement Project. The plan would run 2.72 miles of 12-inch steel pipe as a secondary feed under Little Egg Harbor, by way of directional boring or horizontal directional drilling, from the end of Dock Road in West Creek to West 99th Street (a.k.a. Alabama Avenue) in Beach Haven Park.

HDD is a steerable, trenchless method of installing underground pipe, conduit or cable in a shallow arc along a prescribed bore path by using a surface-launched drilling rig and said to have minimal impact on the surrounding area.

The project application, to be filed by Eagleswood Township on behalf of NJNG through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program, is for a proposed major diversion of township-owned parkland known as “the pavilion” at the end of Dock Road. The major diversion would end up disturbing .02 acres (of the total 29,000-square-foot area) for a permanent subsurface NJNG easement. A public hearing is required because the proposed project involves encumbered land, i.e. the paved parking and boat launch area.

During the public comment portion of the hearing, Eagleswood Mayor Michael Pasternak said he hoped special care would be taken not to undermine the new bulkheading at the street end.

On the upside, the gas company would pay Eagleswood for the access to the land; though too premature for to know now, the amount of the compensation would be determined by an appraisal.

Dock Road residents Jeff and Joan Holcomb along with their neighbor across town, Susanne Ricciardi, did not comment publicly but outside, afterward, shared their concerns about the imposition of it all – they imagine the construction equipment will occupy the area at the boat ramp for a long time, and the Holcombs worry that if something were to go wrong with the gas line and disable access to the road, they might be trapped.

Ricciardi, meanwhile, is a member of the town’s Environmental Commission and an avid dog walker who enjoys the daily trip to the end of scenic Dock Road and back, so her stake in the disturbance of the area is both environmental and recreational.

Instead of getting any benefit from the project, “we’re just getting the aggravation,” she said, citing the eyesore and inconvenience factors. Jeff Holcomb noted progress always comes at a cost.

Cedar Run Dock Road would have been the other possible location to connect the mainland to the Island, Tanzi explained. But the West Creek one was determined to be the more feasible of the two because it’s already near a gas main and, as a paved parking lot, no existing vegetation or wetlands would be harmed.

The LBI Reinforcement Project is one of six capital projects in NJNG’s New Jersey Reinvestment in System Enhancements program, approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in July 2014. (The previous year, the BPU had sought proposals to support and protect utility infrastructure.) Another involves the installation of a supplemental regulator station in Ship Bottom.

Through the five-year, $102.5 million NJ RISE initiative, NJNG aims “to enhance the resiliency of its natural gas distribution and transmission systems and help mitigate the impact of major weather events in the future.”

In the aftermath of Sandy, NJNG cut service from Bay Head to Seaside Park and to Long Beach Island in Ocean County, as well as isolated areas of coastal Monmouth County, then re-pressurized or replaced 270 miles of main, installed 1 mile of 12-inch main, addressed 3,600 anomalies, rebuilt or replaced 51,000 meters, completed 121,000 service assessments and restored service within eight weeks of the storm.

NJ RISE is designed to help mitigate the impacts to NJNG’s system and customers from future extreme weather events. These upgrades would help minimize the number and duration of outages, improve NJNG’s ability to respond to and control service disruptions and enhance the safety and reliability of its system.

The projects include: the installation of 1.5 miles of distribution main in Sea Bright as a secondary feed; the moving of a regulator station off the barrier islands and installation of a new high-pressure feed to Mantoloking; the installation of a secondary feed from Toms River to the South Seaside peninsula; the installation of distribution main as a secondary feed to Long Beach Island; the installation of a supplemental regulator station on Long Beach Island; and the installation of approximately 35,000 excess flow valves in potential storm-affected areas (to restrict the gas flow when there is a change in pressure on the service line).

— Victoria Ford


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