The Chattanooga Gas regional director of operations for Southern Co. Gas said the major 12-inch line under construction in Rome is right at 89% complete.

Paul Leath blamed some of the construction slowdowns on weather and soil conditions, during a discussion Wednesday with Rome business leaders.

Paul Leath

Paul Leath, the Southern Co. Gas director of operations for its Chattanooga Gas subsidiary, told Rome industry leaders Wednesday that the pipeline project cutting through Rome is about 89% complete.

“We had a leak on a service line (along Charlton Street) two nights ago and that was caused by a partial collapse of a trench onto (an existing) service line,” Leath said.

Aside from the obvious weather issues, he told members of the Greater Rome Existing Industries Association that it is taking longer to shore up trenching after rains to make sure the trenches are secure.

The gas company executive also explained that the company wanted to eliminate the gravel compaction over the new pipeline and that it has taken extra time to coordinate the placement of concrete or asphalt to cap off the trenches.

“Quite honestly, it’s safer and it eliminates a lot of issues when we do that,” Leath said. “Other delays — sometimes there might be technical issues they encounter as they go through the chert.”

Chert is a hard, fine-grained sedimentary rock composed of microcrystalline quartz and it frequently occurs in massive beds across Northwest Georgia.

“It doesn’t retain moisture and it’s a challenge to dig in,” Leath said. He said he had never heard of the material until the Rome project got underway.

Graph showing status of pipeline project

A slide displays the latest stage of completion of the pipeline along roads being impacted by the new natural gas line through Rome. Leaders of the Greater Rome Existing Industries Association got an update on the project from Chattanooga Gas Director of Operations Paul Leath.

Atlanta Gas Light, a subsidiary of Southern Co. Gas, is the contractor.

The company started work up in the Ridge Ferry Park area during the winter, with the idea of getting out of the park before the peak of summer activities. The line was finally pulled under the Oostanaula River just last week.

“I know they had challenges with the boring,” Leath said. “I think they had some technical issues and had to rerun it, which might have been a challenge.”

Work at the Mt. Berry Trailhead on the west side of the river is only 40% complete, according to a chart Leath presented to the industry leaders. The North Elm Street section of the pipeline is about 65% complete

Work on Charlton Street in Summerville Park is listed as being 74% complete. Leath said the work on Charlton is expected to be finished around the end of the month.

When complete this fall, the major gas line upgrade will allow International Paper to convert a coal-fired boiler to natural gas.

International Paper Pipeline Project Update

This map shows the route of the new gas line through Rome to serve International Paper.

Recommended for you