BGE will begin major gas line work in Bolton Hill in the first quarter of next year, part of what BGE dubs “Operation Pipeline.” This is effectively BGE’s plan for replacing old gas lines with new ones. The rollout of this initiative was originally planned for the middle of 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.
BGE breaks these projects into phases, and Bolton Hill is entering phase one. The pipes to be replaced in phase one, and thus the homes currently most affected, are shown in the map below. (See Figure 1.) Representatives from the company are uncertain if there will be additional phases in other regions of the neighborhood, but a review of the Operation Pipeline website shows most neighborhoods do include multiple phases. BGE anticipates beginning the first phase of the project sometime around February, and they have indicated each phase takes at least six months to complete.
Concerned about noise, public/private property damage, or repairs?
To understand the impact the project will have on noise, damage to property and the repair process, it is important to understand the process BGE will use to replace the gas lines. Workers are expected to arrive at 7 am, begin working at 8 am, and depart by 4 pm.
They will be digging up roads, sidewalks and anything else blocking the path to the gas lines. In the case of brick sidewalks, they will stack the bricks to the side until repairs are completed – the duration that bricks will be piled is not known by BGE. We have expressed concern over the potential for the bricks to be stolen or, in some cases, to be used as a projectile. Response is pending to this regard.
Digging will be noisy. They will be using jackhammers and a water-powered tool which minimizes root damage. They will be digging in residents’ yards to access and replace pipe beneath the soil. They intend to replant anything they have dug up. They are comfortable allowing the homeowners to dig up and replant their own plants, if requested.
In cases where residents have finished basements, it is possible the gas access was “walled in” behind drywall, or another barrier. In these cases, residents must move items or walls out of the way. BGE will remove such obstacles, but it probably won’t be pretty, and they will not perform or reimburse for any repairs.
The project should not include any extended period of time where a hole is open and exposed. On the same day a hole is dug they will either fill it with “hot mix” or cover it with a metal plate, whether it’s the sidewalk or the road.
Construction vehicles and road work will constrain parking, and “No Parking” signs will be placed throughout the neighborhood during the project. BGE expects to take up a minimum of 20 spots in the active project area, and sometimes more when road work is being performed.
John Street Park
There was much concern over the original plan BGE had for John Street Park. In short, there would have been substantial digging and destruction, but neighbors and BGE have worked together to minimize any impact to the park. They will be digging up the brick sidewalk along both sides of the park, but will not be digging up anywhere inside of the park aside from a very small area in one of the beds on the opposite side of the road from the fountain. To achieve this, BGE is laying pipe on both sides of the park. All other areas of phase one are planned to have a pipe laid on only one side of the road. As a result, the work in this park will be slower than other regions, and is expected to take approximately one month.
BGE entry into homes (Renters and Landlords)
As mentioned above, BGE may require entry into homes to access the gas line. This is a very important part of their process which, if not completed in a timely manner, will delay their entire project and affect your neighbors. We consulted with neighborhood associations where Operation Pipeline has already come through, and those residents indicated that failure of residents to permit BGE entry was the single biggest problem with the project.
These neighbors advised us strongly to make timely appointments with BGE and to keep those appointments. If you do not get your appointment with them resolved, you and your neighbors will be inconvenienced. BGE will leave door hangers, make phone calls, and knock on doors to schedule in-home appointments.
In the case of renters whose name is on the BGE account:
- BGE will enter the house and work on the meters/lines if a renter permits entry.
- If the renter is not comfortable granting access, the renter will need to put BGE in contact with the landlord.
- If BGE cannot contact a renter, or if the renter fails to permit BGE entry and does not supply contact information for the landlord, BGE will proactively locate the landlord and request entry.
Questions are welcomed and encouraged, and will be best addressed at the BHCA Zoom meeting on Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. BGE will have representatives present to provide an update and address questions. It is expected their full project plan will be available shortly thereafter. For more information please see the BGE website and videos on Operation Pipeline.