PG&E Gas Pipeline Projects in Palo Alto
The City of Palo Alto Utilities supplies natural gas to all residents and businesses in Palo Alto. However, the natural gas used in Palo Alto is transported to the City's distribution system through large transmission lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). This web page provides ongoing updates on various PG&E projects related to their transmission lines running through Palo Alto.
CHECK BACK OFTEN! Changes occur frequently and this website will be updated as they happen.
BREAKING NEWS--as of May 13, 2013
- May 17 (9pm) through May 20 (5am)--northbound Foothill Expressway closed. PG&E contractor must once again close both lanes (and the bike lane) between Hillview Ave and Page Mill Road, this time to complete the backfilling and shoring removal for the excavation pits dug under Matadero Creek. Notification signs are up and there will be the same detour as the last time, namely, up Hillview Ave, crossing over to Page Mill Road along Deer Creek road. Good news...the job there is almost done!
- April--June: Several months of installation work is underway to run the pipeline underneath Matadero Creek (near the Foothill Expressway).Usual work hours will be Mon-Fri, 9 am to 4:30 pm, and weekend work is also likely. Northbound traffic on the Foothill Expressway will be impacted from the Miranda merge to Page Mill Road and beyond.
May 17: Additional valve work on this line is required to make it "Piggable," i.e. accessible to inspection devices. Exacavations start this week impacting northbound traffic at Alma near Oregon Expressway. Newly repaved street will not be cut (phew!), but digging in adjacent driveways will slow commuters for several weeks.
Gas Transmission Line #109
Click here for a flyer detailing the project including lane closures, work hours and contact information.
PROJECT OVERVIEW--This is the second segment of Gas Transmission Line #109 which needed to be replaced. It runs through Palo Alto, Stanford and Menlo Park, with the Palo Alto portion running alongside the Foothill Expressway (under Miranda Avenue) between Gunn High School and Page Mill Road. The majority of work was completed as of December 2012. Remaining work to be done is installing the new pipeline under Matadero Creek (see Breaking News above).
MATADERO CREEK SEGMENT---this segment presents some unique problems for the PG&E contractor (ARB, Inc.) due to the existence of multiple endangered species and possible archaeologically-significant artifacts. Therefore, it is hard to estimate the completion date. Work began in early April and will continue through May and possibly into June.
TRAFFIC & NOISE IMPACTS
NOISE and GAS SMELL in the area due to excavation and pipe-laying equipment, pipeline venting etc.
EXTENDED WORK HOURS & LANE CLOSURES---The nature and location of these situations changes constantly, so check regularly for updates. No closures are currently planned for Miranda or Foothill, but there will certainly be traffic delays in the northbound direction.
SPECIAL NOTE TO GUNN HS students and parents: Regardless of the presence of PG&E or other construction vehicles, U-TURNS are always ILLEGAL in this area. The Miranda bus stop area is NOT a good place for drop off.
NOTE RE JUNIPERO SERRA BLVD---expect noise, trucks, equipment and traffic delays between 9am and 3:30pm most days, with special exceptions when work conditions require extended hours.
Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians should continue to avoid the construction areas as much as possible and be prepared for delays if they cannot.
Re-paving along Miranda, Foothill and parts of Junipero Serra (Contractor: Granite Construction) was conducted. However, this is not the final road restoration, which will be completed in early summer when all installation work is complete.
TREE IMPACTS---Some trees and bushes were trimmed and about 30 trees removed because they had been planted right on top of the pipeline segments where replacement work must take place. In consultation with the City Urban Forester and Arborist, PG&E has volunteered to contribute towards a mitigation fund for replanting. Here are some documents with more detailed information for those interested:
COMPLETION---the scope of this project is large since PG&E will be replacing pipeline all the way into Menlo Park. Most of the work in Palo Alto was completed as of December 2012, but some work will continue near Matadero Creek and on other nearby segments on Junipero Serra Blvd. through late May or early June 2013.
(Charleston Road between Alma and Middlefield, with additional impacts between Wilkie Way and Alma). Project finished as of October 2012!
Gas Transmission Line #101
- THANK YOU PALO ALTO!
So far, with everyone's cooperation in avoiding Charleston when possible and driving carefully when on the street, things went very smoothly. STAY SAFE---always go SLOWLY near construction areas and bikers/scooters should be walked near schools when pedestrians are present.
(runs near East Bayshore Drive, next to Highway 101)
PIG Launching Facility (Summer 2013)---this facility, to be located off E. Bayshore Road near the bicycle crossing, will allow for future inspections of gas transmission pipeline #101 by an internal inspection device (called a "PIG"). Some pipeline section replacements will also be required. Details to come.
Pipeline Casing Inspection--during October 2012, an excavation to allow inspection of pipeline casing took place in a commercial parking lot area off Geng Road (near Embarcadero). .
Corrosion Inspection---the Summer 2012 excavation at the intersection of Embarcadero and E. Bayshore Road to allow a pipeline corrosion inspection is completed, with the area fully restored by September 2012. Gratitude is extended to the commuters who had to deal with traffic delays during this project---we are all safer for the inconvenience they endured!
Gas Transmission Line #132
(runs in zig-zag fashion from Middlefield to Alma to Page Mill Road and beyond).
Hydrotest: This line was fully hydrotested in 2011.
Smart PIG Project--May-July 2013: As a second step towards improved pipeline monitoring, PG&E is scheduled to conduct work to run a "Smart PIG" inspection device through the line starting in mid-May. This project will primarily involve excavation work near the 2500 block of Alma Ave, where the pipeline access valves are located.
Impacts on Palo Altans of PG&E Transmission Pipeline Work
The pipeline testing and replacement work has not impacted gas service to City of Palo Alto Utilities customers. However, there have been and continue to be significant traffic impacts and occasional noise and gas smell issues for nearby residents, businesses and commuters.
Everyone in Palo Alto extends special thanks to those people who are bearing the brunt of dealing with the impacts of these construction projects. Despite the inconveniences, we all can appreciate the value of verifying the safety of these pipelines!
PG&E Transmission Pipeline Overview
(information supplied by PG&E)
PG&E has 3 main transmission pipelines that traverse the city of Palo Alto. They are referenced as #101, #109 and #132. The #132 pipeline is the one involved in the San Bruno incident and is the only one of the three pipelines required to be tested in PG&E's current hydrostatic testing project.
PG&E’s line #132
Running roughly 55 miles long and stretching from Milpitas to South San Francisco, Pipeline #132 is only one of many transmission pipelines involved in PG&E’s current statewide testing. (See testing history at the bottom of this page). Per agreement with the CPUC, PG&E assignment was to hydrostatically test a total of approximately 160 miles of transmission pipeline statewide. The criteria for selecting the portions to be tested were the age of the pipelines and the absence of good records regarding previous testing.
PG&E’s line #109
The Palo Alto portion of this pipeline, which also runs along Middlefield from Mountain View but then turns up East Charleston/Arastradero Road, continuing north along the Foothill Expressway, has had about 2/3 of its length replaced in recent years.
Originally installed portions of this pipeline---running along Charleston between Alma and Middlefield and then paralleling the Foothill Expressway along Miranda Avenue---are being replaced this summer.
PG&E’s line #101
This pipeline runs roughly parallel to Highway 101 and all of the Palo Alto portions of this pipeline have been replaced since the requirement for hydrostatic testing was in place and there are validated records of passing this test. In order to perform ongoing corrosion tests, PG&E excavated around a portion of this pipeline (near Embarcadero Road and East Bayshore) during summer 2012.
PG&E is installing a permanent "in the pipeline inspection device" (called a PIG) launching station adjacent to East Bayshore Road that will allow regular, ongoing inspections of pipeline #101 from hereon in. Construction of this facility is delayed until 2013.
CONTACT INFO FOR MORE DETAILS
General concerns or queries can be directed to the City of Palo Alto Utilities Communications Manager by calling (650) 329-2474 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Public and media calls about specific timing and details should be directed to PG&E at the numbers below.
- PG&E Customer Care gas specialist representatives at 1-888-743-7431, between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday
- Or call 1-800-743-5000 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Or visit the PG&E website
- General Natural Gas System Info www.pge.com/gassystem/
- Map of PG&E gas transmission pipelines: www.pge.com/pipelinelocations/
- Details on hydrostatic pressure testing www.pge.com/myhome/edusafety/systemworks/gas/pipelinesafety/hydrostatictesting/index.shtml
PG&E Language Assistance:
Spanish: Para ayuda en español por favor llame al 1-800-660-6789.
Vietnamese: 1-800-298-8438.Gas Pipeline #132 HYDROSTATIC TESTING HISTORY in Palo Alto (2011)
(based on data provided to Utilities staff by PG&E)
- September 10: Testing of the Middlefield to Alma section of the pipeline was successfully completed and this pipeline section was restored to full service.
- October 30: Hydrotest of the first of two portions of the T-30 (Page Mill Road) pipeline segment was successfully completed.
- November 3-14: Small (1 millimeter) leak found in the second portion of the T-30 pipeline segment at Page Mill Road, south of Hanover. The entire segment was hydrotested once again and passed without incident.
- November 18-20: T-30 pipeline was restored to normal operation.
- December through February 2012: PG&E conducted general clean up and restoration of all the areas of activity (Alma Street, Page Mill Road, Park Avenue). PG&E conducted a verification dig in early February at Alma and Oregon to inspect the pipeline casing, which is not part of the pipeline itself.
May 16, 2013