An army of PG&E workers and subcontractors have invaded the Oak Park neighborhood to test and replace a natural gas distribution pipeline. Holes and trenches are being dug on long stretches of narrow streets.
PG&E says it’s part of an overall safety initiative. An aging distribution pipeline ruptured in San Bruno in 2010 killing eight people and incinerating an entire neighborhood. Lawsuits against the utility totaled $565 million.
Pipes will be tested with water under high pressure to identify weak spots and faulty pipes will be replaced with pipes made of more modern materials.
“Higher grade plastic pipe that will improve the flexibility and the safety of the area,” PG&E spokesperson Lindsey Paulo said.
The traffic disruptions and noise is a good trade-off for homeowner Blas Alemein.
“As long as they’re doing a good job, we don’t care about the dust, we don’t care about the noise, we don’t care about nothing,” Alemein said.
He says his neighbors agree that safety comes first, no matter how long construction takes.
“We don’t want happened there (San Bruno) to happen here, there are too many people around,” said Alemein.
Replacing the main line means gas to individual houses may be shut off too. But PG&E is trying to make it easier on residents.
“We will let them know when that happens and we will also come back and relight their pilot lights for them,” said Paulo.
Similar distribution line upgrades have been going on in Roseville as well as PG&E seeks to improve the safety of its system.
The work in Oak Park may go into September. Most of the work will happen from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some work will take place on Saturdays as well. The utility says they expect only moderate disruption of traffic patterns.