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Published: Friday, 2/10/2012

Columbia Gas to upgrade lines in 7 areas during '12

BY CLAUDIA BOYD-BARRETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A major revamp of gas lines throughout Toledo is expected to affect more than 6,000 residents this year.

Columbia Gas of Ohio announced Thursday it will invest $20.4 million in the city during 2012 to upgrade gas pipelines in seven areas.

The work, which has started in some locations, will involve retiring bare steel gas lines and installing plastic pipes to improve the reliability and safety of service, Columbia Gas officials said. Also, customers with indoor meters will have them moved outside. Altogether, nearly 50 miles of natural gas infrastructure will receive upgrades.

The projects, which build on work done in 2011, are part of a total $200 million investment by Columbia Gas in northwest Ohio that will span about 20 years.

"This is just the tip of our 20-year iceberg," spokesman Chris Kozak said. "These projects reflect major commitment to this community."

Residents saw their bills go up in 2008 to help fund the capital improvements and so will not incur any more increases in relation to the project, Mr. Kozak said.

Mayor Mike Bell, who was present for the announcement made at one of the project sites in South Toledo, called the efforts "impressive," and said they will complement major infrastructure improvements the city is planning for its roads over the next two years.

"It's nice to know all these positive things are happening right now in Toledo," he said. "It's really a one-two punch."

Dean Monske, chief executive officer for the Regional Growth Partnership, said better gas lines are imperative to attracting businesses to the city. "They're not a nice-to-have, they're a have-to-have if you're going to attract business to the region," he said.

The projects will also benefit the local economy, Mr. Kozak said. So far, the gas company has hired 40 employees to carry out the projects and is seeking 10 more. The company is also hiring several contractors, he said.

Customers affected by the projects will be sent a notification letter before the start date, external affairs specialist Carmella King said. Columbia Gas will hold public meetings to discuss the work in each area and answer questions.

"No customers should be caught off-guard," she said.

Customers who have their meters moved from inside their homes to outside will experience about a 2.5-hour cut in their gas service, she said.

The seven projects are in the following vicinities:

  • South Avenue and Ogden Avenue (under way).
  • Airline Avenue and Decatur Street.
  • Rogers Street and Woodville Road (under way).
  • Holmes Street.
  • Yates Street (under way).
  • Parkwood Avenue.
  • Dryden Drive.

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at:cbarrett@theblade.com or 419-724-6272.



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