MALONE — Two water crossings and weather issues have delayed progress on the 48-mile natural-gas pipeline being built in northern Franklin County.
Contractors are taking longer than anticipated to break through large rock formations under Farrington Brook and Little Salmon River, said Jim Ward, general manager of Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas.
The company is building the $41 million transmission line from the St. Lawrence County Town of Norfolk east through the Town of Moira and into the Village of Chateaugay.
Service began in November for a handful of customers in the Brasher-Winthrop-North Lawrence area of St. Lawrence County, including North Country Dairy and St. Lawrence Central School District.
But efforts were slowed in Franklin County by recent extended cold weather and the region’s unforgiving terrain.
“They’re hitting solid rock in a lot of cases,” Ward said of the contractors. “They’re hoping to get the drilling done as soon as possible, but when it’s below zero, the drilling machine has a hard time.
“We’ve had to wait for good conditions to work.”
When the route for the pipeline was planned, he added, the company was aware of the rugged conditions, but it wasn’t until the actual work began in those areas that the severity of those challenges was seen firsthand.
“And it’s always hard work trying to go under a stream and rock, but we will continue our efforts to get it done,” Ward said.
LARGE USERS FIRST
Once the borings are finished and the pipe connections made, the line will be tested and conditioned to make sure it can begin accepting the natural gas.
Then the flow will be started.
And since construction began on both ends of the pipeline at the same time, the Agri-Mark/McCadam Cheese Plant in Chateaugay will have its service started as soon as possible, Ward said.
During groundbreaking ceremonies for the pipeline in August 2012, Agri-Mark/ McCadam officials said the switch to natural gas will save the company at least $1 million and help it retain the 100 jobs there.
Once other large-volume users are on the system, residential customers will be brought on as well, Ward said.
Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas project is covering the majority of costs for the project, but Franklin County has contributed about $1.5 million toward its pre-planning, design and execution.
Former Gov. David Paterson had pledged $2.5 million toward the pipeline, and Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) secured $2 million.
Because of the benefit to the North Lawrence area and retention of jobs at the dairy plant there, St. Lawrence County was asked to contribute $600,000, but its County Legislature has taken no steps to do so.
Email Denise A. Raymo:email@example.com.