CONNEAUT — Construction on the Risberg natural gas pipeline has started in Ohio, near the state line.
Pipe segments lined an area of clear ground south of Interstate 90 Wednesday, marking the path of the Risberg Pipeline. Construction started at the end of another pipeline in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and work has now entered Ohio, as the $86 million pipeline is getting closer and closer to it's end-point in North Kingsville.
The pipeline includes 16 miles of new pipeline in Pennsylvania and 12 miles of new pipeline in Ohio.
"I don't think it's possible to overstate the need (for natural gas)," Conneaut City Manager Jim Hockaday said.
Growth Partnership Executive Director Greg Myers has said in the past that the county has lost out on investment and job opportunities because of lack of access to natural gas.
Work on the project started in March, with crews clearing land along the pipeline's path. At the time, the project was expected to finish in early summer, with some help from the weather.
The work this week isn't the first in Ohio, as RH energytrans, the company behind the pipeline, has also done work in North Kingsville, leveling land and preparing for the arrival of the pipeline itself.
RH energytrans hopes to have the pipeline completed by mid- to late-summer, depending on the weather, spokesperson Dennis Holbrook said. Testing will be done on the pipeline as it is constructed.
Once construction is finished, RH energytrans will request final approval to send gas through the pipeline from the federal government, he said.
If everything goes well, and the weather cooperates, Holbrook expects gas to be flowing through the pipeline in late summer.
"I know the spring has not been kind to them," Hockaday said. "I wish them drier weather."
Hockaday touted the economic impact of the project.
"If you want to have business and industry, you have to have access to natural gas," he said. "Ashtabula County has had insufficient natural gas for 50 years, so this is a huge step in the right direction."