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Roadwork on Higuera Street in SLO extended 2 months due to unexpected glitches

Workmen seal the gas pipeline replacement trench at the end of the work week Friday on South Higuera street. Traffic has been restricted to one lane during the project, which will last at least two more months.
Workmen seal the gas pipeline replacement trench at the end of the work week Friday on South Higuera street. Traffic has been restricted to one lane during the project, which will last at least two more months. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A pipeline replacement project along South Higuera Street, originally scheduled to finish this month, is now expected to wrap up in mid-May.

The work, which stretches from the city limits to Bridge Street, has caused sometimes lengthy traffic delays along South Higuera Street — especially at Los Osos Valley Road, where construction also is underway to improve the Highway 101 interchange there.

Southern California Gas Co. spokeswoman Angela Fentiman said weather played a small role, but the utility also ran into some issues when work started in December that led it to revise the original time estimate.

“The concrete went down deeper than initially anticipated,” she said, “so some of the detection tools … weren’t able to identify what was underneath (the surface). That makes the excavation more difficult as well.”

The company is replacing about 2.8 miles of 10-inch-diameter pipeline, which was originally installed in 1927. Lane reductions are in effect during working hours, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The project cost is about $12 million. Ratepayers throughout the company’s service territory may end up covering a small portion of it, but those costs have yet to be determined, Fentiman said.

Several other gas lines will also be tested or replaced throughout the county in the coming year.

The gas company will replace 5.4 miles of pipe along El Camino Real beginning north of Pueblo Avenue and ending northeast of Harvey Way and North Forty Road in Atascadero; replace 1.76 miles of pipe and test about 0.76 of a mile of existing pipe in Pismo Beach; and test 0.92 miles of existing 8-inch pipeline that starts at North Oak Park along West Branch Street and ends at Rodeo Drive in Arroyo Grande.

The state Public Utilities Commission mandated in 2011 that all natural gas pipe segments be tested or replaced to meet modern standards, following the 2010 gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno that killed eight people.

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