WALNUT CREEK -- As PG&E works on its natural gas pipeline here, some of the city's most heavily traveled roads may see delays.
At the beginning of this month, the utility began work at major intersections along Ygnacio Valley Road and in other areas near downtown, testing and replacing natural gas pipeline. This is all part of PG&E's test and pipeline replacement effort throughout Northern and Central California.
"PG&E is performing a hydrostatic pressure test on a natural gas transmission pipeline that serves the Walnut Creek area to verify the line's strength and integrity," said Tamar Sarkissian, a PG&E spokeswoman.
The Walnut Creek work will examine 3¿1/2 miles of pipe and is part of a $10 million project that also includes upgrading sections of pipe and automating gas valves in Lafayette and Concord. The oldest of these pipes were installed in the early 1960s, she said.
All of this is in the name of safety, according to Sarkissian. Besides testing the operating pressure, and potentially replacing pipes, PG&E will install remote-operation control valves. These valves will allow PG&E to automatically turn off gas.
The valves "will be primarily located near earthquake faults and in densely populated areas," Sarkissian said.
While people in Walnut Creek living near the work areas should notice no disruption in their gas service, drivers will likely notice congestion. Roads to be affected include Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Avenue, La Casa Via, Lacassie Avenue and California Boulevard, Civic Drive, Olympic Boulevard and Reliez Station, as well as the Boundary Oak Golf Course. Work is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Don Murphy, construction coordinator for the city, said PG&E will not be in the middle of the intersections along Ygnacio Valley Road. That road sees about 75,000 car trips a day. But there may be turn-lane closures or lane restrictions on other roads, he said.
This project is one of a few planned for the summer months, when construction in Walnut Creek gets busy, Murphy said. While he doesn't have exact dates yet, PG&E has another project for Civic and Ygnacio Valley Road, and a private development also needs a water main extension in that same area. Those projects will both be done at night and result in road closures, he said.
PG&E's gas pipeline work should be done by mid-September.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.