Natural Gas Pipeline Draws Closer to Homer

     Crews installing the natural gas trunk line are heading down the hill into Homer. Twenty-three miles of pipe will eventually stretch from Anchor Point to Homer and then into Kachemak City. 

     Crews have been clearing trees and installing the trunk line at a good clip. Work in the downtown core area of Homer is expected to start toward the end of next month. Enstar has plans to install 35 miles of pipe in town during the first phase of construction.

     “Essentially it’s the business district, the schools, where most of your public buildings are at, and where most of the business and commerce takes place in the city of Homer,” Pierce said.

     Kachemak City will have nine miles of pipe for its distribution system. Next year, construction in Homer will go up East and West Hill Roads toward Skyline Drive. Lines also will be installed further along East End Road. 

     Pierce took me out East End Road toward Kachemak City to point out where the line is expected to go and possible disruptions. Maybe you’ve seen the wooden stakes along the bike path.

     “Obviously we’re going to do some traffic control measures along here. We’re going to have to. This is a busy road. The bike path might be closed… sections at a time, to allow us to do work,” Pierce said.

     Pierce said construction has been going well so far because of an incredible amount of planning. He said boring crews have had their work cut out for them with laying pipe under wetlands, culturally sensitive sites and even the ambling Anchor River. Pierce said the trunk line along the Old Sterling Highway will need to go 25 to 30 feet under the riverbed. We ran into Billy Long and his crew while they were prepping the boring machine to pass the pipe through an easier spot on the side of a road.

     “You can’t trench along the side of it without taking away from the integrity of the road,” Long said. “We’re going to go deep and underneath of it… probably 15 foot to 20 foot range.”

     As crews have gotten closer to town with few interruptions, Project Manager Chet Frost said, for the most part, weather also has been on their side. He said he’s spent a lot of time interacting with residents along the pipeline route as well.

     “We’ve had a lot of people come and talk to us… with concerns about their trees, mailboxes, fences, those kinds of things. And we’re addressing those on a case-by-case basis,” Frost said.

     One area where many trees were taken out was along the Old Sterling Highway. Pierce said crews moved quickly through there while the ground was still frozen. Workers with boring equipment are expected to make their way into that area soon. Crews have already marked spots with orange fences and stakes.

     “Everywhere you see that fence, they’re boring,” Pierce said.

     Enstar is accepting applications right now for natural gas service. Pierce said residents are welcome to come into the office to get all the necessary forms. So far about 120 applications have been approved for service.

     “We’re estimating 200 service lines in Kachemak City. We’ve estimated 800 service lines in phase one of the Homer project. And then we’ve got another 200 or more along the trunk line. All total, we’re looking at somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 service lines potentially in the Homer area this summer,” he said.

     Pierce reminded residents to be as accurate as possible when filling out the equipment load sheet. That will determine the type of meter and service line Enstar will install.