SALEM - Columbia Gas of Ohio will wind down its work for this year on a $4.25 million gas line replacement project in the city on Friday, returning next year to finish connecting customers to the new system.
"Customers will benefit from increased safety and reliability for decades to come. Any construction project of this size is bound to cause inconvenience, and we thank everyone in Salem for their patience," Columbia Gas of Ohio spokesman Dave Rau said in an email.
Rau serves as the Communications & Community Relations Manager for Columbia Gas of Ohio and was one of several company representatives who visited the city in February for an open house to explain the project to interested residents.
Workers began work earlier this year to replace the old steel lines with long-lasting plastic pipe, including the main gas line servicing the center of the city and the service lines going into homes and businesses, connecting the main to the meters. Part of the process included moving indoor gas meters to the outside.
According to Rau, about 300 of the 500 customers in the affected area are already connected to the new gas system, leaving about 200 customers who will continue being serviced by the existing gas system until crews return to connect them to the new system. Depending on the weather conditions, crews may return in January.
The email said most of the installation of the new gas main is finished, except for the area of Sugartree Alley between North Lincoln Avenue and Lundy Avenue and a short section of Lincoln Avenue.
Before workers leave at the end of this week, pavement and landscaping will be restored, except in areas where construction will continue next year.
"Around the state, there have been huge increases in requests for new gas service, as well as requests from local governments to move our facilities due to road construction and other projects. Because of that increase, the crews that have been working in Salem will be shifted to projects that must be finished by the end of the year," Rau wrote.
Area residents have also been getting visits by Columbia Gas of Ohio and their representatives for installation of automated meter reading devices so gas meters can be read from a truck on the street via a transmitter.
Rau said installation is complete for about 90 percent of the customers in the Salem area, with most of the remaining customers needing installation having meters indoors, including some businesses.
"We hope to complete them by the end of the year," he wrote.
When all the customers have Automated Meter Reading devices on their gas meters, the company will begin monthly meter readings in the Salem area, meaning no more estimated bills.
Rau said "customers will get timely information about their gas use, making it easier for them to manage their bill."
To learn more about Columbia Gas of Ohio, check out the company website at www.columbiagasohio.com.