YERINGTON - Some 15 miles of natural gas mains and service lines in Yerington will be replaced between now and March, but new installation methods should minimize any traffic disruptions, a Southwest Gas official said.
Southwest Gas will install new gas lines on nearly every street in the city without having to dig long trenches, said Fallon District Manager Tom Moessner.
"We use trenchless technology," said Moessner, who oversees Southwest Gas operations in Fallon, Yerington, Silver Springs, Fernley and Lovelock. "Nothing disturbs a customer more than digging up a street or a yard."
Instead, Southwest Gas is drilling 2-by-4-foot holes at each home or business and two holes at each end of a block measuring two feet wide, 20 feet long and three feet deep. Crews from Northern Pipeline Co. will drill horizontal tunnels about 4 inches in diameter from one end of the block to the other.
The flexible, 2-inch polyethylene pipe will be attached to the drill and then pulled through the tunnel as the drill is extracted.
With individual holes instead of block-long trenches, cars will still be able to use the streets. Pipeline work will be done one block at a time with work taking about one to one-and-a-half weeks on each block, Moessner said.
"We don't block off the street or the driveways," Moessner said. "That's the great thing about it."
The $1.2 million pipeline project is funded by existing operating and maintenance funds. No rate increases were necessary to give Yerington a new natural gas conveyance system, Moessner said.
Southwest Gas is replacing polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, pipes installed in the 1960s with polyethylene pipes, which became the standard in the mid-1970s.
Polyethylene can carry more gas at higher pressure than PVC. Polyethylene can transport gas at 60 pounds per square inch while PVC has maximum capacity of 43 pounds per square inch.
"Our pipeline system cannot keep up with growth," Moessner said. "We would be pushing the limits in a year or two (if Southwest Gas doesn't put in new lines)."
Southwest Gas is putting in 40,892 feet of natural gas main under the streets and 42,072 feet of service lines that link the mains to homes and businesses. The new lines will run next to the old lines, which will remain in the ground, unused.
The pipeline project includes all the streets between Goldfield Avenue (Alternate Highway 95) to the north, the schools to the east and Mason Valley Country Club to the south.
Work will be done by neighborhood and started earlier this month south of Bridge Street and east of Main Street. A precise work schedule has not been determined yet but in coming weeks residents can find out on which week specific streets will have pipeline work by calling the Southwest Gas in Yerington at 463-3161.