Eagle residents seek to push pipeline away from homes
EAGLE — The comment period for citizens to formally voice their views about the planned SourceGas high pressure transmission line project in Eagle has ended, and its fair to say representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management got an earful.
“There are some fairly upset people,” said Eagle Open Space Coordinator John Staight. “The general consensus seems to be to push the pipeline as far away from residential areas and town infrastructure as possible.”
Eagle Ranch residents, local recreationalists and the Eagle Town Board all weighed in on the matter.
Since 1994, a natural gas transmission line has been funneling the commodity right underneath a portion of the Eagle Ranch area. The line itself hasn’t undergone any changes, but above it, the Eagle Ranch neighborhood has developed. For that reason, SourceGas needs to either upgrade the existing line or totally relocate it. That project is earmarked for construction in 2016 and the BLM is currently reviewing the plan because the alternative routes impact both federal land and town of Eagle open space.
Relocated or Reinforced
Federal regulations require that the line is either relocated or reinforced because of its proximity to residential and commercial areas. The pipeline, called the Rifle-to-Avon Natural Gas Pipeline, serves natural gas customers in Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin and Summit counties. SourceGas officials say that because of its proximity to residential and business areas, volume through the pipeline has been restricted and that is affecting the customers along the route. The 4.6-mile section of pipeline that currently crosses through the Eagle Ranch subdivision needs to be upgraded to meet federal regulations or the entire pipeline route must be changed.
SourceGas, BLM and Eagle officials have been examining route alternatives for the past 15 months and three alternative routes have been identified. Under one alternative, SourceGas would upgrade the existing pipeline segment in its current location through the Eagle Ranch subdivision. That alternative would have the largest impact to private residences and the Eagle Ranch Golf Club. Under the two other alternatives, SourceGas would reroute the pipeline south of the Eagle Ranch Subdivision area for about 3.4 miles through lands managed by the BLM and the town of Eagle open space. However, all three alternatives would mean heavy disruption to the town’s Third Gulch and Arroyo trailheads.
In its official response to the pipeline plan, the Eagle Town Board noted it favors “alternatives that move the pipeline away from existing residences while minimizing impacts to recreational users.”
The town has requested that, in addition to rerouting the pipeline away from its existing location, the pipeline be located away from residences at Fourth of July Road, the Arroyo Trailhead and Clover Lane. All three of the route proposals converge at that site.
“The town is concerned about the impact of construction activities and the placement of a high pressure transmission line in these residential and heavily used recreation areas,” reads the town’s official response. For that reason, Eagle offices have requested that the BLM reconsider the routes previously identified so the pipe can be routed from Third Gulch to Mayer Gulch.
That is also the sentiment from the Eagle Ranch Association and several of the residents in the area. Digging up the existing line and fortifying it would not only affect open space areas, but it would also affect private property and the Eagle Ranch Golf Club and result in significant disruption in the area because of construction staging.
“I haven’t heard from anyone who thinks it’s a great idea to just replace the existing high pressure transmission line,” said Erin Vega, manager of the Eagle Ranch Association. “We are really hoping it will be relocated outside of the residential area.”
While it will be postmaster Elizabeth Turner’s first busy season in Avon, it’s far from her first holiday-shipping crunch.