Route 136 pipeline

Crews work Tuesday on a section of the new four-mile gas pipeline along Route 136 in Churchville. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / July 22, 2014)

Along Route 136 this summer, just north of Churchville, there has been a lot of digging, some trees felled and open areas torn up by excavation equipment.

A contractor for Baltimore Gas & Electric Company is in the midst of building a new four-mile pipeline in the north-central part of Harford County to meet growing demand for natural gas in Harford.

The pipeline is a continuation of a 3.5-mile pipeline workers installed along Route 136 from Dublin to Trappe Road in 2010, Aaron Koos, a spokesman for BGE, said Monday.

The pipeline under construction will run from where Trappe Road intersects Route 136 in Street, south along the roadway and under Deer Creek to the Route 136 intersection with Route 22. The pipeline will be connected with BGE's existing system of gas lines.

Koos said construction began in June, and is expected to continue through early fall.

"After October, it's cleanup and restoration of the roadways and any disturbed ground," he said.

The pipeline will be underground in a covered trench line along alternating sides of Route 136, depending where BGE has rights of way. Workers will also bore tunnels under the highway to allow the line to cross.

The contractor is Otis Eastern Service, according to a notice BGE sent in June to property owners along the route.

There are 45,000 gas customers in BGE's service area in Harford County, Koos said. The utility serves gas and electric customers in nine Central Maryland counties and Baltimore City.

"Harford County is growing about twice as fast as the rest of BGE's system, on average," Koos explained.

He said the amount of growth is projected to be about 1.5 times to twice the system average during the next five years.

Koos said demand for natural gas in Harford County has grown in recent years as the area "began to emerge" from the recession. In addition, the power company's growth has been driven by development in the Aberdeen and Edgewood areas resulting from by the federal military base realignment process, which resulted in an expansion of Aberdeen Proving Ground.

"This reinforcement is necessary to serve the demand of customers right now, and we also look forward to ensuring that we continue to meet those needs going forward," Koos said.

The pipeline under construction is considered a reinforcement by BGE, because it will allow the utility to provide more gas without increasing pressure on the current system of pipelines.

"You actually have to install more pipes to make sure you're operating within safe operating limits," Koos said.

He said most of the pipeline will be built in open trenches, and workers will not have to close Route 136 when boring under it; drivers should, however, expect partial lane closures where the trench crosses roads intersecting Route 136.

The line will also have to cross Deer Creek.

"We are actually going to drill under Deer Creek," Koos said, adding, "You are avoiding disturbing any wetlands or waterways."

Koos said BGE has obtained a letter of authorization from the Maryland Department of the Environment for its activity around Deer Creek, as well as permits from MDE to mitigate environmental impacts from stormwater discharge and a grading permit from Harford County.

Workers will also have to cut down about one acre's worth of trees along the route from the BGE right-of-way, as well as State Highway Administration and private rights of way, where BGE has an agreement with the agency or private owners, to make room for the line.

Koos said new trees and shrubs will be planted in a tree bank, a one-acre plot in the Aberdeen area, to replace the ones cut down.