I have often thought Atascadero should change its name to Cone Head City because it seems our streets and intersections are many times cluttered with those orange traffic cones.
Most recently, those cones have lined a stretch of El Camino Real, Atascadero’s singular north and south avenue except for Highway 101, as Southern California Gas Co. buries a new high-pressure natural gas line beneath the street from close to Morro Road south to the Santa Margarita Ranch.
Presently the high-pressure main runs along Atascadero Avenue. The gas company is executing a pipeline safety enhancement plan (PSEP) to ensure safety in the transmission of the natural gas we all depend on.
Since a devastating explosion of a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. gas line in San Bruno almost five years ago next month, state regulators have put into place both the replacement and hydrostatic pressure testing of its gas lines.
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The project underway in Atascadero has, as far as I can see, been exemplary in mixing daily traffic with such a massive undertaking of installing 40-foot lengths of pipe pre-assembled in a facility at the corner of El Camino Real and Santa Barbara Road.
I can’t imagine the effort of putting out all those traffic cones in the morning and picking them all up at night. Also, at the end of each day, heavy metal plates are placed over the open trench until workers take up the job the next morning.
The worksite is kept constantly clean as workers sweep the route. Large pieces of equipment, from backhoes to dump trucks to tractors used for lowering pipe sections into freshly dug trenches, fill the work space between the north and south traffic lanes.
I know there are many skilled workers involved in such an effort, from welders to equipment operators and the people in charge of daily traffic control.
Olga Quinones, community education and outreach project manager, and Timothy Mahoney, public affairs manager with the gas company, credit the smooth operation to all the contractors involved. The main contractor is ARB Construction.
I thought of all this the other day when it was 100 degrees at the work site and I drove by in my air-conditioned truck, rubber necking at the work.
So far, the new pipeline is in the ground starting about the entrance to the Food 4 Less complex. Temporary blacktop patches will be repaved when the whole project is finished, sometime in October.
I’ve heard complaints from a couple of businessmen that their sales have dropped because of the project. At least one has threatened legal action.
But I think this massive job is being well carried out as the utility company works to take a high-pressure main out of a single-family neighborhood and put it in beneath a more public street.