Volume 20, Number 36 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 25 - September 1, 2010
New pipeline to be built beneath Hudson River
BY Albert Amateau
Downtown residents have yet another gas problem in addition to the potential danger from hydrofracture gas drilling in the New York City watershed. The newest concern is a proposed natural gas pipeline that Spectra Energy wants to build from New Jersey across Staten Island and under the Hudson River to the Gansevoort Market District to connect with Con Edison’s gas lines.
The project will need a slew of federal, state and city approvals before construction is scheduled to begin in 2012. Completion is expected around November 2013.
“We’re concerned about the impact on public safety, traffic and noise during the construction period,” said Jo Hamilton, chairperson of Community Board 2.
The board is planning an October 5 public meeting on the project, at a time and place to be determined early next month, with representatives from Spectra, Con Edison and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Hamilton said. Spectra and Con Edison met with the Community Board 2 Environment and Public Safety Committee and representatives of Borough President Scott Stringer and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler on August 11.
According to preliminary plans, the project will involve a total of 20 miles of new pipeline between 30 and 40 feet below grade from Linden, N.J. across the northwest corner of Staten Island, through Bayonne, N.J. and Jersey City, then under the Hudson River to the southwest corner of the Gansevoort Peninsula where it will slant up to three feet below grade at Gansevoort Street near the 10th Avenue service road. At the August 11 meeting, a Spectra representative said the company would try to minimize traffic interruption where the pipeline crosses the West Side Highway.
Con Edison would continue the pipeline along 10th Avenue to West 14th Street to the Con Edison natural gas distribution system. “We supply natural gas to all of Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester and we need the pipeline for reliability,” said Chris Olert, a Con Edison spokesperson. Exactly where the pipeline would connect with Con Edison is subject to adjustment, Olert said.
The project is still in the scoping phase for its Environmental Impact Statement and written submissions may be submitted to FERC until August 20.
“But we’ve been assured that anything received after that date will still be accepted. Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission doesn’t intend to file for the E.I.S. until early December, we will all have time for a thorough review,” Hamilton said.
“We are in the early stages of the project that will transport an additional 800 million cubic feet per day of natural gas into the area and are currently evaluating several routing options for the proposed alignment of the pipeline,” said Marylee Hanley, spokesperson for Spectra.
No interference with Hudson River Park plans
David Katz, marketing vice president of the Hudson River Park Trust, the state/city agency which has jurisdiction of the Gansevoort Peninsula where it plans to build a part of the five-mile Hudson River Park sometime after 2013, said the pipeline is not expected to interfere with the park project. The peninsula is still being used by the city Department of Sanitation to store trucks, but Katz said, “We are working with Spectra to make sure the pipeline project does not impact current use and future park plans.”
Spectra said the new pipeline, officially known as the New Jersey-New York Expansion, would result in about 100 construction jobs in 2012 and 500 in 2013 when construction is in full swing. The project would also generate $10 million in tax revenues, the company said.
Regarding safety, Hanley said, “The pipeline will be built to exceed highest safety standards set by the federal government.” Meter stations along the route continuously monitor pipelines for leaks and pressure loss, she said, and valves can be closed by remote control. In addition, inspectors physically check the land around the pipeline three times a week, Hanley said.
In addition to FERC, the Army Corps of Engineers must sign off on the project. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard are among the federal agencies consulted in the approval process.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Transportation must review the project along with the Hudson River Park Trust. The city Department of Transportation must approve the right-of-way and issue construction and street opening permits. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has a review role in the process and the city Department of Environmental Protection must issue an infrastructure permit. Moreover, for the segments of the pipeline in New Jersey, six agencies will have to review the project.