Evanston natural gas pipelines to be replaced this year

Nora Shelly, Assistant City Editor

Several natural gas pipelines in Evanston will be replaced this year in an effort to bolster public safety.

Nicor Gas is replacing the pipelines as part of its own program that will upgrade Illinois’ natural gas infrastructure. Nicor’s initiative is in an effort to align with a 2013 state bill aimed at modernizing the state’s natural gas system, Jae Miller, a spokesperson for Nicor, said in an email.

The pipelines are the property of Nicor gas, and they are leading the renovation project in coordination with Evanston city officials. The new pipes will be both more safe and more environmentally friendly, said Kumar Jensen, the city’s acting director of sustainability.

“(Old infrastructure) can be a significant health issue,” Jensen said. “Obviously natural gas is a safety hazard, so improving … the systems can actually reduce health risks.”

The pipelines being replaced in Evanston are primarily located in a region between the Davis and Dempster El stations. The project will replace the pipelines, remaking the system from low-pressure piping to high-pressure piping and will move the gas meter from the interior to the exterior of residents’ homes.

The new pipelines will be made of plastic instead of cast iron, said David Stoneback, director of the city’s Public Works Department.

“The old cast iron pipe is subject to failure because it is so old, so replacing it will help stop gas leaks as well,” he said. “(Nicor owns) the pipes and are responsible to do it.”

Stoneback said the transfer from a low-pressure to a high-pressure system would better protect the integrity of the pipes underground, and moving the gas meter from the inside of the home to the outside will help keep residents safer in case of a leak.

This year’s projects are part of a four-phase initiative that began in 2013. The entire project will finish next year, Stoneback said.

The construction will begin Monday with the replacement of gas mains and gas lines and will conclude with the movement of the gas meters from inside to the outside of residents’ homes.

The work will last through the summer until September.

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