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Kayla Strayer /Daily Globe One of several signs placed along sidewalks in the west-central part of town.

Gas line project halfway complete

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WORTHINGTON -- Since Sept. 1, sidewalks on the west-central side of the city have been blocked off for gas line replacement projects, which are now about halfway completed.

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Rory Lenton, the external affairs manager for Minnesota Energy Resources (MER), the company which provides gas services to Worthington, said there are four phases to the project.

If the weather permits, the earliest expected completion date will be in about a month.

"If the weather turns on us, then we may only get done with Phase 3 and have to do Phase 4 next year," Lenton said. "We're looking to get it all done this year, but it's weather- dependent."

The steel gas lines being replaced are about 60 years old, Lenton said. New high-density plastic pipes will take their place.

"One of the things we do at MER is constantly upgrade and improve our systems," Lenton said.

MER serves 165 communities throughout the state. Each year, projects are determined based on the age and composition of the pipe.

The cost of the project is completely covered by MER, including replacing sidewalks once the new pipes are installed.

"Right now if you drive by, it's going to look like a construction zone, but when it's done we do restoration to the city's standards," Lenton said. "We will replace all of the sidewalks at our expense. That's why we don't get a lot of complaints."

The project is part of MER's routine maintenance, Lenton said, adding customers won't see any changes in their bill or service.

"Anything that's used in infrastructure will wear out over the years," Lenton said. "So, before we have any problems with it, we replace it ahead of time to make sure we have good, consistent and safe natural gas for customers."

Lenton sent letters to customers earlier in the year informing them of the project.

Once the gas lines are replaced, he said, the crew leaves contact information on the customer's door to inform them if their gas needs to be turned back on.

For the Worthington project, MER hired a contractor, Q3 Contracting, which Lenton described as a "professional company, and good at what they do."

The project cost can't be released due to contract restrictions, Lenton said. More information may be found online at www.minnesotaenergyresources.com/.

Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.

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