Starting Monday, Highway 12 through the Springs will be subjected to traffic delays, blocked driveways and perhaps even stinky air as PG&E begins major work on the natural gas pipeline beneath the roadway.
The work entails replacing about 1,500 feet of central pipe, and the service lines that branch off to homes and businesses. Crews will start May 3 in the area between Fetters and Central Avenues. The project will continue through August.
Construction will occur along Highway 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. “Traffic delays are likely for both pedestrians and motorists during the project,” according to PG&E’s Deanna Contreras.
PG&E will have traffic control in place for safety and to assist with the flow of traffic, she said. No work is currently planned for weekends or holidays.
Work hours at private properties and businesses will start at 7 a.m. through 5 p.m.
For the safety of the public and crews, Contreras said, there will be detours and lane closures throughout the duration of the project. Some streets may be condensed from two lanes to one lane.
During the project, gas service to some customers may be impacted for a short time, typically between 2-4 hours. “These customers will be notified in advance if and when gas service will be interrupted.”
As for the funky smell: PG&E says that its crews may need to release natural gas from the pipeline. “The smell of natural gas and the sound of venting may be noticeable,” Contreras said. “The natural gas released during venting will quickly dissipate into the atmosphere and will not be harmful.”
A more long-lasting effect may be disruption to businesses along the construction route. There was a major CalTrans project along the same area in 2015, and businesses who saw their driveways effectively shut off from entry are concerned the upcoming work will also be disruptive.
Contrares told The Sun that driveways will not be blocked, “and there will be PG&E flaggers directing drivers and pedestrians in and out of the driveways if needed.”
Although the utility is doing what it can to mitigate the impact, according to Austin Sharp, local Senior Manager for PG&E’s Sonoma Division, “Safety is the absolute first responsibility.”
“We recognize that this important safety work may affect traffic and be less convenient for local businesses and those who live in the area,” Sharp said. “The new gas distribution line that we are installing supports the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to Sonoma (Valley).”
PG&E encourages anyone who has concerns about natural gas odors in or around their home or business to call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.