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Spire details upcoming pipe replacement project in LaFayette

At its meeting on Monday, the LaFayette City Council heard from Spire Natural Gas about the upcoming pipe replacement project that will soon take place in LaFayette.

There are three phases to the project that will take place throughout Alabama Avenue. Overall, there will be 3.72 miles of pipes replaced, and there will be 79 customers that will have their pipelines replaced.

According to Spire Manager of Pipeline Management Bryan Rotenberry, Spire is hoping to start the project in the next week.

“Most of our work will be behind the curb and in the right away,” Rotenberry said.

Rotenberry said most of the replaced pipes are cast iron and have been in use since the 1930s or 1940s.

“These three phases will get the last of the cast iron,” Rotenberry said.

Spire will start the project with phase III, which will start near Eastside Elementary and the cemetery. 4th Place SE, 1st Ave SE and Hill Street will also be included in the project.

The second phase will include 1st street, 2nd Ave NW, Court Way NW, 1st Street SE and Court Place NW.

Phase I, which will be the final phase, will be along 431 and will include Ave A SE, 1st Street SE and 1st Place SE.

“It actually has an ALDOT permit that we’re attaining now. Our goal is to have that permit by the time that we proceed with the other two phases,” Rotenberry said.

Before work starts, Southeast Connections will conduct sewer inspections. According to Rotenberry, Southeast Connections should be in LaFayette for those inspections this week.

During the sewer inspection, Southeast Connection will launch a camera in the city’s sewer lines to check the depth of the lines.

“It’s a huge cost, but it’s also a huge saving as well,” Rotenberry said. “We’re really strict with our contractors about boring pipe into the ground without spotting it. It is required that they spot every utility that we cross. That limits damages and things we don’t know about.”

At the end of the project, Spire will make sure that a camera will go back through the lines to ensure it hasn’t caused any damage.

Customer satisfaction is also important to Spire. Throughout the project’s life, Spire will have an employee at the worksite to make sure that everything is going according to plan and to be there to answer questions from residents.

“We’ll have someone that is actually here with the contractors that are doing the work the whole time they are here,” Rotenberry said. “The first thing they do is hang this [a door hanger with information about the project] on the customer’s door. They’ll actually knock on the door and try to make contact with each resident and try to tell them about the work that is going to go on.”

Once the project in the section is halfway over, Rotenberry said that the inspector, Barry Butler, who will be in the area throughout the completion of the project, will once again go through the community giving an update on the project.

“A lot of times what will happen is when we’re doing our work and we move from block to block, we have temporary asphalt in patches and maybe some seed and hay over the yard restoration, where we will come back and fix it to permanent status. We want to make sure that when we’re a couple of blocks over, that we haven’t forgotten about them,” Rotenberry said. “We try to communicate with the customers on a daily basis to make sure that they’re taken care of.”

Rotenberry said Spire’s goal is to replace the pipes before the city’s repaving project starts.

“This is something that we really want to do,” Rotenberry said. “There’s nothing worse than having a freshly-paved road then for us to start making cuts.”

Spire serves six different states, including Alabama and Mississippi. Overall, it is the third-largest utility distributor in the United States.

According to Rotenberry, Spire has more than 1.7 million customers and has put in more than 32,000 miles of main pipeline. In Alabama, Spire serves 653,514 customers and has installed 13,576 miles of main pipeline.