Columbia Gas announces completion of pipeline replacement project

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Work crews have completed a massive Merrimack Valley pipeline replacement project three weeks ahead of schedule, marking a major milestone on the path to restoring gas service to the Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover, Columbia Gas announced Tuesday.

The project, which began earlier this month, included the installation of 43.5 miles of gas main lines and 5,086 service lines, and the requalification of nearly 12.3 miles of mainline polyethylene pipe. The upgrades provide state-of-the-art infrastructure and enhanced safety features for the entire system, according to the utility.

Columbia Gas says nearly 1,400 residential meters and 84 businesses have been relit since recovery efforts started.

Project manager Joe Albanese said at a press conference last week that residents should expect to have gas service fully restored to their homes as early as Dec. 2 and no later than Dec. 16.

More than 130 structures and five homes in neighborhoods in the communities were damaged or destroyed by fires and explosions on Sept. 13.

One person was killed and 25 others were injured.

The pressure in natural gas pipelines was said 12 times higher than it should have been at the time of the blasts.

Gov. Charlie Baker has urged residents to consider taking advantage of temporary housing that is being offered.

Columbia Gas is footing the bill for hotel rooms, apartments, travel trailers, and warming shelters for residents until gas service is fully restored.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)