Eagle town board mulls relocating gas line
EAGLE — Faced with a massive project to relocate the SourceGas transmission line that currently runs underneath a sizable swath of the Eagle Ranch neighborhood, Eagle officials don’t particularly like any of the routes proposed to date.
Instead, they would like the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and SourceGas to consider a different alignment that moves the pipe away from existing residences and minimizes impacts to the town’s recreational amenities.
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 the ground above it has undergone substantial ones. 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 project because the alternative routes impact both federal land and town of Eagle open space. Federal regulations require that the line is either relocated or reinforced because of its proximity to a 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 trail heads. During their review of the proposal, members of the Eagle Town Board asserted their desire to move that alignment further south as well.
“Eagle is the primary party affected, and we should provide the preferred route,” said town board member Kevin Brubeck.
Eagle Open Space Coordinator John Staight has prepared a letter, which will be part of the BLM public comment process, for the mayor’s signature that outlines the town’s concerns with the proposed alternatives.
Topping the town’s list of concerns is the risk of potential loss of life and private property damage in the event of a gas pipeline explosion. SourceGas officials maintain stringent safety measures will be employed for the pipeline project, minimizing this risk. The town’s other concerns include noise, dust and air quality impacts for residence along the route along with construction traffic issues.
The BLM, SourceGas and the town will identify the pipeline route later this year in anticipation of construction in 2016. The work will begin in May and conclude by November.
The BLM is required, by law, to prepare an environmental assessment document regarding the pipeline project that analyzes environmental and socio-economic impacts. As part of the process, the BLM is required to provide opportunities for public review and comments, which will help with the federal decision making process. The Eagle Town Board is encouraging citizens to review the information and provide comments in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Colorado River Valley Field Office, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652. All comments submitted to these addresses will be forwarded to the Eagle Town Board. Per the BLM’s environmental assessment timeline, public comments need to be submitted by Friday.