By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
A gas line expansion project calls for 12 miles of new pipe that will be installed at various locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Most of the 42-inch pipe will be installed along an existing underground line which is only visible by yellow markers. Transco, part of Williams Partners, is buying easements and has already purchased a handful of homes, they say at market value or higher. Company officials say this isn’t typical but necessary because New Jersey is so densely populated.
“It’s expanding the right of way and that’s where issue really becomes because people who live next to it bought with the expectation there was a certain right of way and now the pipeline company is taking their property,” said Clinton Township Mayor Kevin Cimei. “They’re compensating them but there’s no ability to stop it, for the extra pipeline.”
The project will impact nearly 100 homes in Hunterdon County. Clinton Township passed a resolution opposing the project. And local residents formed a group to raise awareness about it. Among its concerns — public safety and the potential impact to habitat and drinking water because the project runs through parts of the sensitive highlands.
“It does increase risk. You can argue it doesn’t and it’s infinitesimal, but it does increase it and for that we don’t get anything,” Cimei said.
Company spokesperson Chris Stockton says Transco has safely operated pipelines in New Jersey for more than 50 years. And the company has the technical capabilities to monitor the pipeline 24-7. Federal regulators have approved the project. Stockton says the expanded pipeline will help meet the growing demand for natural gas.
“It’s a pipeline that serves New York City and Boston and it helps them be more competitive and get cheaper natural gas, but frankly it doesn’t do one thing for this town or any of these towns,” Cimei said.
Trees on Ray Flint’s property sit directly above the existing pipeline. He has some concerns about expanding it, mostly because it could adversely impact property values. But he believes there’s little that can be done to stop the project.
“I just want what’s going to be fair for our property. If they’re going to do it, let’s get it done, get moving along with it,” Flint said.
Prep work for the project has begun at the company’s compressor facility in Essex County. Pipeline construction is expected to start in the spring.