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Columbia Gas work continues in city

COLUMBIA GAS's line replacement program continued on South Locust Street Monday. According to Versailles Public Works Director Bart Miller, similar work on Morgan Street should be finished by Thursday, June 15. (Photo by John McGary)

Woodford County Magistrate Gerald Dotson (Dist. 6) showed up at the June 6 Versailles City Council none too happy about the condition of parts of several roads in his district. Two of them, Morgan Street and Church Street, were part of a Columbia Gas pipeline replacement program that began Feb. 9. A Jan. 11letter from Columbia Gas was sent to residents of those streets (and Simmons Avenue, Bell Court and Maple Court) telling them the "Morgan Project" would begin Feb. 9. "When you complete your construction, are you going to put the streets back the way you found them?" Dotson asked. Mayor Brian Traugott responded that while Morgan was on the city's paving list, "In my opinion, Columbia Gas ought to put the streets back the way they found them. It shouldn't be the taxpayers of this community. We weren't the ones that destroyed them, obviously." Dotson said Church Street and Bowmar Street were the roughest, and Traugott agreed. Later, Public Works Director Bart Miller said Bowmar Street has been involved in the city's ongoing overhaul and expansion of its wastewater treatment program. Dotson said Church Street and Bowmar Street (one not mentioned in the Columbia Gas letter) were the roughest, and Traugott agreed. "You're going to negotiate with them ..." Dotson asked. Traugott responded, half-jokingly, that he wouldn't object to Woodford Fiscal Court resurfacing them. (People living on those streets are county residents, too, but the streets belong to the city and are maintained with city or state funds.) Traugott told Dotson that a June 20 city council meeting would address the issues, beginning with a hearing involving the state road fund, and Dotson said he'd be there. Monday, Columbia Gas communications specialist Risa Richardson had news that should address concerns of Dotson and others frustrated with the pace of street restoration. She said work on affected streets will begin Monday and last through July 12, with most of the yard restoration work finished already. She said the utility's goal is to restore the areas to the same or better condition. Public Works Director Bart Miller said the same, noting the matter is covered in the city's Right of Way manual, which was passed by the city council March 21. In an email accompanying the manual, Miller wrote, "One of the main reasons the Right of Way Manual was passed was to prevent large areas of patch work on city streets. We look at all of our city streets every year and prioritize those that are in most need of re-paving ... "Although properly patched streets may last a long time, the integrity of any street is damaged when any type of cuts are made. Because so many utilities are located under streets ... there will always be a need to make road cuts. The City works with utilities on their paving schedule and sometimes postpones paving work so utilities can do routine maintenance or replacement work. Of course, emergency work can never be predicted." In the meantime, replacement of other natural gas lines around town continues. "Columbia Gas is on an aggressive line replacement program, primarily in older residential sections of town," Miller said. Miller said in recent weeks, Columbia Gas employees have been on both sides of Locust Street and on Morgan Street, and that the Morgan Street line replacement and initial clean-up should be finished by June 15. On Monday, contractors worked on a line on South Locust Street near Morgan Street, and a worker said that job would be finished before the day was done. Miller said he wasn't sure how old the gas lines being replaced were, but had some good news for people affected by the road closures and cuts. "When ... they put in a line, that line is going to last a long, long time ... They won't come to Morgan Street in our lifetime again." Richardson said customers can call a Columbia Gas hotline (859) 288-6355 to find out more about the state of the gas line replacement and clean-up project affecting them.

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