Pipeline has a history of problems – M-50 repaired after pipeline company miscue closes lane


By John Hummer
Exponent staff writer
Traffic on M-50 was restored to normal, two-lane traffic flow between Beebe and Tipton highways Monday after a pipeline company caused some roadway damage while burrowing a path for the Rover Pipeline project under the road.
“We were a little concerned as we’re approaching race week,” said Kelby Wallace, manager of the Michigan Department of Transportation Jackson Transportation Service Center. “We didn’t want to wait, so we hurried up and did a lot of that work late last week and over the weekend to make sure we were ready to open it back up for the race traffic coming up.”
According to the Adrian Telegram, the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office was alerted of the incident shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday and was asked to assist in detouring traffic around the damaged section. By Thursday, temporary traffic lights had been installed at the location – alternating east- and west-bound traffic through one lane – and the detour was removed.
Wallace said the traffic problem was “all taken care of” by around 3:30 p.m. Monday.
“For the most part, they’ve taken care of everything we’ve asked them to,” he said.
The Rover Pipeline Company is constructing a pipeline segment from their Midwest hub in Defiance County, Ohio through Michigan to an interconnection with the Vector Pipeline to enable deliveries of natural gas to points in Michigan and to the Union Gas Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada.
Wallace said the company doing the work at the location of the damage was Precision Pipeline and they provided the name of Mike Hampton, with a Wisconsin phone number, as a contact person.
“I’m not authorized to comment on anything that goes along with the pipeline,” Hampton said when contacted.
“They hit something underground about 20 feet below the road,” said Wallace. “The shoulder settled a little bit, dropped, and sunk. We went ahead and shut down that lane and put up some temporary traffic signals.
“Where the pipeline was crossing the road, basically some of the material underneath the road – the sand – kind of settled down leaving a six- to eight-inch void under the pavement,” continued Wallace. “The pavement didn’t collapse because it was concrete under there. It kind of held up.”
Wallace said MDOT told the pipeline contractor to have their engineer figure out some repairs.
“They came up with a solution to pump some concrete under there to fill that void,” he said. “They paid for all the work to repair the road.”
MDOT waited through the weekend for the concrete to cure and settle properly.
“Things looked good so we were able to open the road back up [Monday],” Wallace said.
He said the company is done drilling underneath the road in that location, but is continuing to lay the pipeline underneath many crossings of state and county roads.
“They’ve done a lot of geotechnical investigation and we think this situation was kind of an unexplained occurrence – something to do with the material they were drilling into out there was a little unique,” Wallace said.
The Rover Pipeline is designed to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf\day) of natural gas through approximately 710 miles of 24-inch, 30-inch, 36-inch and 42-inch pipeline. Rover Pipeline is building four mainline compressor stations, six supply lateral compressor stations, and other ancillary facilities along its route.
Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based company that runs the pipeline project, has been plagued by numerous problems in constructing the pipeline including spills of drilling mud into wetlands, ongoing questions about diesel fuel contamination, and even demolishing an historic home in Ohio, as reported in the Midwest Energy News on July 18. The company has had orders issued against them in early July by both the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
More problems with the project have also emerged in Michigan and West Virginia, according to the same publication.
MEN reports that the concerted federal and state enforcement actions in Ohio, plus the other disputes, could slow plans for the pipeline to begin operation early next year.
The total fines sought from the company so far exceed $900,000 and has been referred to the Ohio Attorney General’s office for possible further action, MEN reported.
Rover Pipeline LLC is a new interstate natural gas pipeline company designed to transport natural gas from processing facilities located in the prolific Marcellus and Utica Shale areas to market hubs that can reach Midwest, Gulf Coast, Canadian, and U.S. Northeast markets.

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