Under the Severn River Bridge, affixed to steel that carries Route 50′s traffic above and provides clearance for boaters on the water below, there’s a high-pressure gas main that has been part of Tim Falls’s family for three generations.
His grandfather, Dan Ligon, led the pipe installation project in the 1950′s for Ligon & Ligon—the family business and one of the first gas contractors to do work for BGE.
Nearly 70 years later, Falls managed its complete decommissioning and replacement—as Ligon & Ligon’s vice president and senior superintendent. The company was BGE’s prime contractor for the 18-month project.
The work plan this time around bore little resemblance to its predecessor.
“This is one of the more unique projects that I’ve been involved with,” said Falls. “We went through many different rounds of looking at the bridge. Should we use barges? What about trucks? And we built a scale model of the bridge to figure out where the pipe could go.”
Every detail matters. This work increased reliability and capacity for 6,000 natural gas customers around Annapolis and ties together two feeds that bring gas service to the area. “On critical days when it’s cold, or if there’s damage on one feed, you need that extra feed in order to supply customers,” said Tim Slater, manager of development in gas engineering and program management at BGE.
The new pipe will resolve those issues and more. It’s larger in diameter for increased capacity to better meet the needs of gas customers on peak energy days, and a durable epoxy coating will mitigate the risk of corrosion. Its positioning means no lanes of traffic need to be shut down when performing inspections and maintenance – which was not the case previously. It requires a knuckle boom truck parked in the shoulder and a gas mechanic with no discernable fear of heights.
“A lot of people look at it as just pipe, and it just flows gas,” said Rich Pasko, project manager in BGE gas construction who oversaw the project. “But it’s so much more than that when you get into the details, when you learn the benefits—how it’s going to make the system that much more reliable.”
The gas main is part of BGE’s continued focus on upgrading and improving its natural gas infrastructure for existing and future customers. This work also is vital to ensuring that the energy transformation spurred by the State of Maryland’s legislated goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 is equitable for all Marylanders.
Multiple third-party studies have shown that a future energy system that relies on both increased electrification and strong natural gas infrastructure – an integrated energy system – saves customers $15 billion in costs while achieving the State’s goal.
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