Several businesses in the 100 block South Main Street in downtown Bowling Green have been evacuated because of a heavy odor of gas. They include Coyote Beads, Grounds for Thought, and Lahey Appliance & TV. (The businesses were back in operation on Friday.) Owners of all three said Columbia Gas teams were in their stores working on gas lines today. Laura Wicks, of Grounds for Thought, said that she noticed the smell shortly before 6 p.m. A Columbia Gas employee was on the scene, and told her and Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads that he needed to call in more help to handle the problem. Both women were complaining of headaches. Patrons from Grounds for Thought were waiting outside both in the front and rear of the businesses. Columbia Gas is in the process of replacing gassiness throughout the downtown.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green officials want Columbia Gas to clean up their mess when they are done ripping up downtown streets to replace natural gas lines. City council president Mike Aspacher expressed concern at last week’s council meeting that the street paving where Columbia Gas was done digging appeared to be substandard. “We’ve already told them to tear it out and do it again,” said Brian Craft, director of public works for the city. Though the city plans a street resurfacing job in downtown next year, that work won’t extend over the entire area dug up by Columbia Gas. The section of North Main Street located north of the Wood County Senior Center is not part of the city’s project. So, Craft told the utility company to do it again. “We’ve been on them,” he said. Aspacher said Columbia Gas is required to match the pavement so it is the same or better than it was before they tore up the streets. But that hasn’t always been the case in the past. Aspacher said Columbia Gas has previously replaced streets with substandard work after past jobs in the city. “It’s had a negative impact,” he said. Craft said once Main Street is repaved next year, it should all be smooth. A better type of asphalt will be used than during the Heritage 2000 project, when it was last paved. However, until then, the downtown streets will be a little rough, he added. In other business at last week’s meeting, council member Sandy Rowland noted how smoothly traffic seemed to move in the city over the previous weekend – despite the additional congestion from the National Tractor Pulling Championships, downtown construction by Columbia Gas, and the monthly Firefly Nights event downtown. “In spite of everything going on this weekend, traffic moved well in Bowling Green,” Rowland said. Craft noted the city gets to do it all again this weekend – with move-in at Bowling Green State University and annual soccer challenge event. In other business: Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported that as the summer comes to an end, the city pool will be open the next two weekends, from 1 to 7 p.m. each day. Craft said Manville Avenue, which had been torn up most of the summer, should be finished soon after Labor Day. Council learned a public hearing about Firefly Night’s liquor permit request will be held Sept. 4 at 6:45 p.m.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Motorists trying to navigate through Bowling Green this summer have encountered many roadblocks – literally. The downtown is torn up and lanes are shut down as Columbia Gas crews replace natural gas lines. A section of Thurstin was closed earlier this summer for BGSU to work on a utility tunnel. Alternating portions of Manville Avenue have been closed for repaving by the city. And several railroad crossings have been blocked for CSX work this summer. “It’s kind of a perfect storm with Columbia Gas downtown, CSX at the tracks,” along with the city and university projects, said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator for Bowling Green. When the city notified residents last week that tree trimming on private property would close some spaces in a downtown city parking lot, a citizen responded on Facebook: “If they close any more streets and public spaces in this town, we all need to leave on vacation.” Fawcett understands. “It’s not easy,” getting around some areas of the city this summer, he said. “It isn’t a perfect situation,” Fawcett said. “But we don’t have a choice in the matter.” The city has been issuing frequent notices about which streets and parking areas will be next on the closure list as the work continues. “From the city’s perspective, we’re trying to get the information out so people know how to navigate the work zones,” Fawcett said. All the work is necessary – and will result in a safer and better city for residents once it’s all complete, he said. The gas line work is primarily on Main Street, from Clay Street to Ordway Avenue, but is also extending down some side streets, alleys and into parking lots. The project is part of many upgrades being done to prevent problems with aging lines. The bare steel lines are being replaced with plastic pipes. Initially, the Columbia Gas work was scheduled for 2019. However, since Bowling Green is planning major streetscape work in the downtown next summer, the gas line work was bumped ahead a year. “We wanted them to get in and out before we pave the streets next year,” Fawcett said. Raquel Colon, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas of Ohio, said the downtown project which started in June will not be completed until sometime in October. “We have brought some additional crews in to keep the progress moving,” Colon said on Wednesday. The project is slow moving because there are 110 customers affected and so many individual lines that have to be replaced. Columbia Gas crews are trying to be sensitive to motorists’ needs, Colon said. “We try not to block any roads in their entirety,” she said. However, the workers need clear work zones to complete the project. “There will still be areas where it slows down a bit,” Colon said. The city is just trying to make the projects as painless as possible. “From our perspective, we want to get them in and out as quickly as possible, so the impact to the citizens and the traveling public is as little as possible,” Fawcett said.
By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Columbia Gas officials gave assurances Monday night that the installation of new gas lines in downtown Bowling Green would not interfere with the summer fun. The $1.3 million project to lay 7,500 feet of plastic pipe is scheduled to begin June 4, and continue until early September. It will extend down Main Street from Clay down to Lehman and Ordway. The existing metal pipes will be replaced by plastic pipes. The project is part of an ongoing effort by Columbia Gas to upgrade its service. The gas service will go from about a quarter pound of pressure to 50 pounds of pressure. “That gives us not only a safer pressure to keep water out of the lines, it allows for homeowners and residents to use more gas appliances,” said Raquel Colon, an external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas. “You’ll have more capacity to have more gas come into your home.” This will include generators for businesses, said Jim Simon, project leader for Columbia Gas. “This project will be a lot of open cut, there’ll be a lot digging, not boring as we’ve done in the past,” Colon said. “What we’re doing is a lot of digging, and it will be a little dirty but the goal is a much safer distribution of gas.” Alex Hann, who is site and logistics chair for the Black Swamp Arts Festival as well as being active in other downtown events, asked about what provisions would be made for the five events already planned. On the downtown calendar are the new Firefly Nights on the third Fridays of June, July, and August, the Classics on Main car show on July 7, and the weekend long Black Swamp Arts Festival, Sept. 7-9 as well as the weekly farmers market. Representatives for all the events were in attendance. Simon said he was aware and sympathetic to the concerns. He lives in Bowling Green and attends the arts festival. “Our goal is to make it as safe as possible.” Hann said he was concerned about tripping hazards as well as conditions that make the area less accessible for those in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Simon said that unlike in the past where the company has completed large sections of project before going back to do restoration, for the BG work they will do either permanent or temporary restoration as they go along. The idea is to leave things as they were before the work. The project is being coordinated with the city which has a downtown streetscape project planned to start in fall. Columbia Gas will patch some areas up, but try to minimize how much will then be ripped out for the city’s project. The gas line improvement extends further south and north than the city plans to go, so those areas will be fully restored. Workers have already been out marking where underground utilities are with color-coded flags and spray paint. “The flags are an indication of what’s under the ground,” Colon said. “The flags are there so we know what’s there.” The markings, however, do not signify where crews will be digging. She advised home owners who have underground sprinkler systems or invisible fences to let the company know to avoid damage. The service representatives will then reach out to property owners and residents to gain access to property to upgrade the service to the building and move the meter. While in residential properties meters have been moved outside, that’s not possible in the Main Street business district. Where businesses now have meter out back those will be…
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News During the next four months, Columbia Gas will be replacing natural gas lines in the downtown Bowling Green area – affecting more than 110 customers and disrupting traffic along Main Street. In an effort to explain the construction project, Columbia Gas officials will hold a community meeting with Bowling Green citizens on Monday, May 21, at 6 p.m., in the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N. Main St. The work area is primarily on Main Street, from Clay Street to Ordway Avenue, but will extend down certain side streets, alleys, and into parking lots. The gas line work will begin in early June, and is expected to be completed by October. Cheri Pastula, communications manager for Columbia Gas, said the project is part of many upgrades being done to prevent problems with aging lines. The bare steel lines will be replaced with plastic pipes. The Bowling Green project was moved up to this year, Pastula said, since the city is planning major streetscape work in the downtown next year. “We decided to do it this year before the city does its roads,” so the street work will not need to be disturbed, she said. During the community meeting, Columbia Gas officials will address how the project will affect residents: Columbia Gas contractors will work street by street to install new main lines and service lines up to each customer’s home or building. Gas service will not be impacted until it is time for Columbia Gas to connect the customer to the new gas system at their meter. For most customers, gas service will be interrupted for approximately two hours. Customers will get advance notice of this service interruption. If the gas meter is currently inside, it will be moved outside. Any surface that has to be disturbed will be repaired by Columbia Gas. This includes sidewalks, driveways, lawns and landscaping. Once this work is complete, customers will have a gas system with state of the art safety features. During the construction, Columbia Gas will make efforts to not shut down any streets. However, lanes will be reduced and flaggers will be on hand, Pastula said. “There most likely will be some traffic disruption,” she said. “But we try not to close down the roads.” Columbia Gas of Ohio has invested more than $1.5 billion in communities around the state to replace aging gas lines over the last decade. This is paying off in safety, with leaks reduced by 40 percent, according to the company. Residents can contact Raquel Colon, external affairs specialist for Columbia Gas of Ohio, with questions or concerns at 419-351-8398 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.columbiagasohio.com/replacement for more information on the construction process.