Gas Pipeline Construction Now Underway on Penn State Campus
After months of debate and delay, construction on a high-pressure gas pipeline began Monday. The pipeline, which was originally supposed to run through parts of State College, will instead run across the Penn State campus.
The construction is taking place at two points on campus. One is on the Arboretum side of Park Avenue, and the other is on Porter Road near Penn State's swine research facilities.
Penn State's Office of Physical Plant expects few disruptions on campus during the school year.
Penn State OPP Communications and Public Affairs Coordinator Paul Ruskin says the installation started smoothly, and shouldn't affect traffic or the Penn State football games this season.
"We have looked at Penn State football schedule and we will work around it," Ruskin says."We'll see minimal disruption of the football season and traffic flow for next few months. I won't be so certain about that when summer comes."
Ruskin notes that while OPP will be working on the pipeline through the winter, there will be a big push to make progress during the summer months. Penn State is doing major work in the summer because fewer students will be on campus.
Penn State is installing the pipeline as part of a project to convert the West Campus Steam Plant from coal to gas. The university has until January 2016 to meet new air quality standards established by the state Environmental Protection Agency.
The conversion of the steam plant caused an uproar in the State College community in the past year, with many residents being concerned about potential dangers. As a result, Penn State agreed to spend almost $10 million to move the pipeline so that it runs through campus.
Penn State lost some valuable time while the issue was reviewed. "We have deadlines to meet," Ruskin says. "That debate took a number of months away so we have to be as efficient as we can."
The EPA announced last week it will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed air quality plan for the plant. The meeting will happen at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30 in the State College Area High School Auditorium.