ROBERT A. DEFRANK FOR THE INTELLIGENCER
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Progress continues on the Rover Pipeline, which will pass through Belmont County and carry natural gas across 18 counties and four states.
The Belmont County Board of Commissioners signed a road use maintenance agreement Wednesday, retroactive to Dec. 7, that includes Clover Ridge Road, a portion of County Road 5. County Oil and Gas Liaison Steve Hill said that portion of road had not been included with the original agreement. He said the road will be upgraded once the pipeline is complete.
Susan King, a public outreach representative for Rover Pipeline, thanked the board for its cooperation. She said the project will result in a 713-mile long, 42-inch diameter dual pipeline designed to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of domestically produced gas per day from the Marcellus and Utica shale production areas to markets across the country and in Canada, where a Union Gas Down Storage Hub will redistribute it back to the United States or into the Canadian market.
The pipeline will pass through central West Virginia and through the southeastern portion of Belmont County west of St. Clairsville, into Harrison County and then on across Ohio and into Michigan.
The pipeline is a $4.2 billion project that will create about 10,000 temporary construction jobs along its span, including 4,500-6,500 positions in Ohio, and 30-40 permanent positions created in four states. King said more information about the project can be found at roverpipelinefacts.com.
She stressed there are opportunities for local employment.
“If someone in the local community has a business or service that they would like to offer to Rover, there’s a contract solicitation link,” she said. “We’re trying to support as many local businesses and contractors and individuals as possible to build the pipe.”
Commissioner Mark Thomas said some impact is being felt in terms of the influx of worker activity.
“There are 34.99 miles of pipe that will be built in Belmont County,” Thomas said, adding that more truck traffic already has been seen in Belmont County. “There’s a lot of workers here that will be here for awhile this summer as they build throughout Ohio. This is a big, big project — the primary reason why you’re seeing much more truck traffic in Belmont County.”
He also cited benefits to the local economy.
“There are at this point hundreds of workers that are here in Belmont County that are staying in various places including our hotels, shopping here, buying products, eating out at restaurants, etc., so it is actually very good for our economy and will be for the rest of this year,” Thomas said. “While there are some local jobs created, the majority of the jobs are going to be transient pipeline workers with the experience and knowledge of how to do it.”
Belmont County Engineer Terry Lively spoke about the process of working to ensure the safety and upkeep of the county’s roads during the project. He said road use maintenance agreements ensure any damage to roads as a result of the project will be addressed.
“We’ve also told them specific roads that they can use and can’t use, and we’ve already had a couple instances where they misunderstood where they could go and where they couldn’t go,” he said.
There have been some related road damage complaints, Lively said, pointing specifically to a gravel road in the Lafferty area.
“Apparently a truck turned a corner a little too sharp and chewed up a telephone pole,”he said. “Things like that — mud being tracked onto the road. … There’s a lot of little things that come up. Most of the time people call our office because they don’t know who else to call, and so we’ll direct those calls to the responsible people at Rover or the pipeline crews that are actually doing the work and have that addressed.”
His office is also working with the pipeline project on other details, such as interest in using a bridge with a weight limit of 16 tons on Cat’s Run on County Road 56 in the southern part of the county.
“We’re working with them to come up with a solution that would allow them to get over that bridge,” he said. “We’ve come up with some solutions on a temporary structure they can use.”