NJNG Ceasing Operations for Now on Eagleswood Side of Pipeline Project

By Victoria Ford | Nov 27, 2019

Eagleswood — New Jersey Natural Gas is temporarily ceasing operations in Eagleswood on laying a secondary natural gas pipeline under the bay from West Creek to Beach Haven Park, a company representative told the Eagleswood Township Committee Monday night.

The committee heard a presentation from NJNG Supervising Engineer Joe Puglisi on the status of the LBI Reinforcement Project, whose purpose is to supply Long Beach Island in the event of another weather event on the scale of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

As of Nov. 1, NJNG, Carson Corp., the construction company contracted to do the job, and consulting engineers from CDM Smith have decided to stop operations on the Eagleswood side of the project until further notice. Since work began in January, crews have met with numerous problems that have delayed and set back progress.

The plan for now, according to Puglisi, is to “let everything settle, give everybody a break,” and give the engineers time to redesign a potentially new drill shot, or pathway for the horizontal directional drilling.

“With what we have seen and gone through, I’d like to think we’ve learned from some of our mistakes,” Puglisi said.

Currently they are waiting for approval of a DEP permit adjustment for the landing spot on LBI, to begin drilling from the barge in the middle of the bay to LBI after the new year. Very tentatively he said by April they might be able to return to Eagleswood and restart the process by early summer. The new plan will hopefully make life easier for the nearby residents affected by the work, he said. “We would need a new equipment layout on Dock Road, most likely moving the drill rig west 100 feet or so in front of (house no.) 576,” Puglisi explained in an email to officials dated Nov. 14.

Several years in the making, the project is one of the capital projects in NJNG’s New Jersey Reinvestment in System Enhancements program, approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in July 2014. At present, the only gas line feed to the Island has been under Route 72; the new pipe will serve as a redundant main to the existing 12-inch main along 72.

The plan will run 2.72 miles of 12-inch Powercrete epoxy-coated steel pipe as a secondary feed under Little Egg Harbor, by way of directional boring or horizontal directional drilling, from the end of Dock Road in West Creek to West 99th Street (Alabama Avenue) in Beach Haven Park. Horizontal directional drilling is a steerable, trenchless method of installing underground pipe, conduit or cable in a shallow arc along a prescribed bore path by using a surface-launched drilling rig. The method is said to have minimal impact on the surrounding area.

In September 2017 a public hearing was held on the town’s application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres Program, to divert 0.02 acres (approx. 900 square feet of the total 29,000-square-foot parkland area) at the end of Dock Road for a permanent easement to NJNG. In exchange for the easement, Eagleswood Township would receive $70,000 to purchase open space. In January 2019, the committee authorized the easement, right of way and temporary workspace at the end of Dock Road, and construction began, closing the pavilion at the public park closed while fishing and other recreation at the boat launch area was allowed to continue.

However, several equipment failures last spring and summer, including the pipe breaking, have stymied the project’s progress. Finally, in the third week of October, while they were trying to rescue the drill string, it broke, and “took us back to square one,” Puglisi said Monday night.

Right now, crews are cleaning up the Dock Road site to get out of there, he said. They’re about a week behind the most recent schedule sent out to the committee.

In the Nov. 14 email, Puglisi outlined the remaining work and restoration to be done:

Crews have successfully hammered out concrete and pulled I-beams, offloaded equipment from the jack-up barge, removed sheeting and transported equipment to the drop yard. They must now re-establish a drainage swale and line it with stone, grade and plant spartania cod grass in the wetlands, repair/replace piling caps at the bulkhead and make other repairs as needed to both the bulkheading and the pavilion, and otherwise do a thorough cleaning up of the whole area.

With the town’s blessing, about a half-mile length of piping along the side of the road will remain, as well as the staging areas on the north and south sides, essential for pipe and equipment storage for Phase 2 of the project, during which the two pipe strings would get floated out and laid down on the LBI side; then the other strings would get built in preparation to drill and install on the Eagleswood side.

Puglisi said he will continue to provide officials with updates every two weeks, in addition to any significant news in between.

Deb Murphy of Dock Road, owner of D&S Marine Services, said her concern is with NJNG taking up any more of the pavilion area than already occupied. The local community relies on that recreation area, she said, and “it was a mess down there this year.”

— Victoria Ford




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