News

PG&E testing to cause Alma traffic diversion

Flaw examination on outside pipe casing to take place Jan. 18-28

Continued testing on PG&E's Line 132 is expected to cause traffic along Alma Street to be redirected for 10 days starting Jan. 18, City of Palo Alto Utilities Communications Manager Debra Katz said Tuesday morning (Jan. 17).

The work involves checking the outside casing surrounding the pipe for flaws. The 55-mile Line 132, which runs from Milpitas to South San Francisco, is the one involved in the San Bruno explosion and fire. The California Public Utilities Commission required PG&E to use hydrostatic (water pressure) testing to find leaks in the pipeline after the explosion.

Between September and November 2011, PG&E performed the tests on sections of the Line 132 pipe, which runs through Palo Alto. The pipe has been fully tested and was returned to full service in December, the city noted on its pipeline update page.

Related story: PG&E repairs leak in Palo Alto pipeline (Nov. 11, 2011)

The surrounding casing inspection would not cause impacts to service or any odors, Katz said. The main effect will be on commuters traveling southbound on Alma from Jan. 18 through Jan. 28. The work will be done between Alma and the Caltrain railroad tracks, just before the intersection with Oregon Expressway, Katz said.

PG&E will be working Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4.p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Katz said.

"The 'effect' in terms of lane closures will only be in the immediate vicinity of the one location -- Alma just south of the Oregon Expressway. How far back that may slow traffic is unknown and will, of course, vary by time of day," she stated in a post on PaloAltoOnline's Town Square.

Standard "warning" orange traffic signs indicating lane closures and "men working" signs will be posted, she said.

The work will not be done in front of the Alma Garden Apartments, as was the case when PG&E did hydrostatic testing, Katz said.

Katz said commuters should consider taking alternate routes.

PG&E has three main transmission pipelines that traverse Palo Alto -- Lines 101, 109 and 132. Line 132 is the only one of the three pipelines required to be tested in PG&E's current hydrostatic testing project, the city noted.

Line 109 runs along Middlefield Road from Mountain View but then turns up East Charleston/Arastradero Road, continuing north along Foothill Expressway. It has had about two thirds of its length replaced in recent years and is believed to have been hydrostatically tested already but paper record verification of that is still underway, according to PG&E.

Originally installed portions of this pipeline -- running along Charleston between Alma and Middlefield -- are scheduled for replacement sometime between 2012 and 2014. That schedule is currently being prepared, according to PG&E.

Line 101 runs roughly parallel to Highway 101. All of the Palo Alto portions of this pipeline have been replaced since the requirement for hydrostatic testing was in place and there are validated records of passing this test, according to PG&E.

PG&E intends to install a permanent "in the pipeline inspection device" launching station on East Bayshore Road that will allow future regular, ongoing inspections. Construction of this device could start as early as summer of 2012.

The city's website, www.cityofpaloalto.org, is kept updated with information on PG&E activity in Palo Alto, Katz said.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alma St. User
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2012 at 10:27 am

What hours will traffic be affected? 24? ___ am to ___ pm?

Will the effect only be between Churchill and Oregon?

Will other areas be affected at other times/days?

What signage will there be?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jan 17, 2012 at 10:48 am

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Thanks for your questions. I am awaiting answers from the city and hope to post them shortly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 17, 2012 at 11:54 am

Why did they give a ONE DAY notice?

The last time that they announced "10 days" of work on Alma St., it ended up taking nearly two very loud months.

:-\


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Debra Katz
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I am the Utilities Communications Manager and I'm happy to answer your questions.

What are the hours PG&E will be permitted to work?
Mon-Fri 9am to 4pm and Saturdays 9am- 6pm

Will the effect only be between Churchill and Oregon?
The "effect" in terms of lane closure etc will only be in the immediate vicinity of the one location, i.e. Alma just south of the Oregon Expressway. How far back that may slow traffic is unknown and will of course, vary by time of day.

Will other areas be affected at other times/days?
No, the impact will only be at the place, days and times indicated. There may not be constant traffic disruption during those times, but it's hard to predict exactly when there will or won't be trucks and equipment maneuvering in the area.

What signage will there be?
As when previous work was being done by PG&E in this spot, there will be the standard "warning" orange traffic signs indicating lane closures and "men working" etc.

I also want to remind readers that we keep our website (www.cityofpaloalto.org/utilities ) updated with information on PG&E activity in our town.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alma Garden Apts resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Hi Debra,

Will this be in front of our apartment complex again? During the last series of tests and pipe replacement, the trucks and machinery blocked our entrances and exits. Sometimes, our parking spaces were used by workers too. The equipment sat in places where some of our vehicles could not back out. I had to find workers to move this and was late to work on several days. It was very unsafe when we tried to exit the apartment complex onto Alma and when we tried to turn into the driveway as well.

Please have someone moniter this situation. Like someone else mentioned, it took much longer than we were told last time and it was a nightmare for those of us who had to experience it.

Thanks,
Alma Garden Apartments resident


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jan 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Hi Alma Gardens Apartments resident. Debra Katz has told me the work will NOT be done in front of your apartment complex.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Probably a good opportunity to obey the speed limit.


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