Originally Posted on September 28th, 2018 by MARK TODD

CONNEAUT — City leaders, anticipating the effects of a natural gas pipeline project on its road system, approved an agreement this week with the pipeline developer.

The agreement with RH energytrans LLC is aimed at ensuring city roads damaged by pipeline construction equipment are adequately repaired, according to Conneaut City Manager James Hockaday. The agreement was unanimously approved by City Council at Monday night’s meeting. The pact guarantees restoration of roads affected by the $86 million Risberg project, which could begin soon after federal regulatory approval is granted.

Responsible parties, insurance and bond requirements, reimbursement for inspection services and road restoration work are spelled out in the agreement, Hockaday said. The document is similar to one put in place when a natural gas pipeline improvement project cut through a swatch of West Main Road (Route 20) several months ago, he said.

“It’s a very good agreement that protects the citizens of Conneaut,” Hockaday said.

The Risberg project will build 28.3 miles of new, 12-inch pipe onto an 8-inch pipe that now ends around Meadville, Pennsylvania. The extension would stretch in a northwest direction into Ashtabula County in Conneaut en route to its terminus in North Kingsville. The line will improve natural gas volume to existing businesses and help attract new enterprise, officials have said. Underridge Road, which is unpaved, stands to bear the brunt of any construction-related damage, officials have said. The east-west road, located a short distance south of Interstate 90, roughly parallels the route the pipe will follow in Conneaut.

“The primary road” used by construction crews during the Conneaut portion of the project will be Underridge, Hockaday said.

“There will be significant damage to the road,” he said.

The good news, however, is when the work is finished Underridge Road will be rejuvenated, Hockaday said.

“It will be in much better shape afterwards than before,” he said. “It will be a minor inconvenience (to gain a) permanent improvement.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee, at the end of June, ruled the Risberg project posed no threat to the environment if RH energytrans builds and operates the pipeline as it proposes — with some mitigation measures added. A 90-day public comment period that followed the release of the FERC environmental assessment will end this month. RH energytrans, as well as local officials, are hopeful final approval will quickly follow the comment period. Recently, North Kingsville Mayor Timothy Zee said he was told by RH representatives construction will start in October once final approval is received. RH staff has obtained permit applications related to the work, he said.

A meter station about 100-feet-by-75-feet in size will be built at the pipeline’s terminus in the village, according to the FERC assessment. Officials have said it will be near the CSX Railway crossing on Route 193. Almost 300 acres of land will be used in the entire project, according to FERC’s assessment. More than 60 percent of the work will involve existing infrastructure, such as roads and railroads, according to the assessment.

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