New route for pipeline skirts Upper Freehold

Staff Writer

Dozens of residents filled the cafeteria of the Upper Elementary School in North Hanover Township to hear representatives of New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) explain various aspects of the company’s proposed Southern Reliability Link (SRL) project.

From 5:30-7:30 p.m. June 11, members of the public had the opportunity to drop in and learn about the proposed route for a natural gas pipeline, how the project will be engineered, the potential impact on property values and more.

Several residents said they were grateful to be able to gather information about the project and to bring their concerns directly to the NJNG representatives.

“We are trying to let the public know we are here and we are available to answer any questions they may have about the project. This is the purpose of an open house,” said Michael Kinney, a senior communications specialist with New Jersey Resources, which is the parent company of NJNG.

In late 2014, NJNG introduced a plan to construct a 30-mile-long, 30-inchdiameter high-pressure gas pipeline from Chesterfield, Burlington County, to Manchester Township, Ocean County, crossing parts of Upper Freehold Township, Jackson and Plumsted.

In April 2015, NJNG filed a petition with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) for the project. Since that filing, there has been a change in the pipeline route as it relates to Upper Freehold.

On April 16, the Township Committee in Upper Freehold passed a resolution designating an alternate route for the pipeline through the municipality.

Initially conceived for the Upper Freehold portion of the pipeline, the project was planned to run from Arneytown-Hornerstown Road to Millstream Road, to Monmouth Road (Route 537).

However, the amended route calls for the pipeline to travel along Upper Freehold’s border on Province Line Road, also known as Ellisdale-Arneytown Road, to Monmouth Road.

“We are ensuring the public that the SRL project is safe, since safety is NJNG’s top priority. When Upper Freehold suggested this route, NJNG examined it further and found it to be practicable,” Kinney said.

In addition, the Township Committee amended an ordinance that was the subject of litigation with NJNG regarding the excavation of streets in the municipality.

“All litigation with Upper Freehold has been resolved, and we have maintained communication with the town,” Kinney said.

As detailed during the open house, the proposed route of the Southern Reliability Link will begin in Chesterfield Township and continue along Bordentown-Chesterfield Road and Arneytown-Chesterfield Road, before crossing into North Hanover.

The pipeline will connect to Province Line Road and Monmouth Road (Route 537) in Upper Freehold Township. It will follow Hornerstown Road, Pinehurst Road (Route 539), Lakewood Road (Route 528), Fischer Road and West Colliers Mill Road through Plumsted before it enters Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

From the military base, the pipeline will connect to NJNG’s distribution system near Route 70 in Manchester Township. The pipeline will total 30 miles.

Currently, NJNG’s distribution system is served by one primary interstate pipeline in Middlesex County. Customers could be greatly affected by a supply interruption, and the Southern Reliability Link project would strength the overall system, according to information provided by NJNG.

Information presented at the open house indicates the pipeline complies with the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, is located primarily in road rights of way, and would be built in accordance with state and federal design standards.

Recently, Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex) introduced a package of bills that seek to protect residents and communities from natural gas pipelines.

“We can’t be too cautious when pipelines are being run through the most densely populated state in the country. I have proposed some common-sense safeguards that will alleviate risk and calm some of the fears associated with potentially explosive pipelines,” Dancer said.

According to NJNG, if the Southern Reliability Link gains approval from the BPU in short order, construction would begin in late 2015. Each construction site will be one-quarter mile long, with 85 percent of the pipeline being installed in roads.

Crews building the pipeline will work on different parts of the project simultaneously, including trenching, backfilling and preparation. Over the course of its 30-mile length, the pipeline is expected to be within 100 feet of 140 structures, according to information provided to the public.

“NJNG will always be available throughout the entire project. We believe staying visible to the public and ensuring the safety of this line are our top priorities,” Kinney said.