High water forces changes for pipeline|[04/21/08]

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 21, 2008

High water south of Vicksburg has forced some schedule and construction changes to the Southeast Supply Header natural gas pipeline.

Project managers told Warren County supervisors that the proposed route for the 270-mile interstate transmission line has been shifted 300 feet south to allow its entry point to be drilled at higher ground.

Supervisors agreed to sell an easement across the southwest portion of county-owned LeTourneau boat landing to accommodate the route shift. Attorneys with the project said the company will pay at least fair market value for the property. Also, pipeline officials said if any portions of Glass Road used to haul materials to work sites are damaged from work trucks, the company will help pay for repairs.

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The line, proposed by Spectra Energy Corp. and CenterPoint Energy Inc., crosses the river at Yokena and heads southeast into Claiborne County on its way to a hub near Mobile, Ala.

River conditions have pushed back its beginning of service date into August, project manager Debbie Ruiz said.

About 105 miles of its 270-mile route is 42 inches wide, then narrows to 36 inches for the other 176 miles. Two other pipelines cross central Warren County, one by Gulf South Pipeline already in service and one by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners still acquiring property.

Much of LeTourneau Road has been closed to vehicular traffic since April 8. Sections of it are believed to have washed out beneath the flood waters. Similar damage to the road after floods in 1973 and 1997 resulted in complete reconstructions.

Once the road is reopened to traffic — and regular visits by the 100,000-pound drill rig needed to lay the pipeline – posted weight limits for large trucks are likely for about 60 days, supervisors agreed.

Though no maximum weight has been decided, pipeline officials said fuel and equipment truck loads will average about 80,000 pounds. By comparison, weight limits set by the city two years ago on the bridge at Washington and Clark streets are set at 10 tons, or 20,000 pounds.

Talks this week between county supervisors, pipeline managers, LeTourneau Technologies and Martin Marietta Aggregates will determine what kind of on-site supplies those industries can get by with before a weight limit is posted.