Construction work along Norris Street, spanning from Broad to 12th streets, was recently completed as part of a larger project to improve gas lines across Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Gas Works—the company in charge of the construction at Temple— is working on upgrading its network across the city, a project that will take decades to complete, said Barry O’Sullivan, director of corporate communication at PGW.
The gas line on Main Campus directly feeds the buildings on Norris Street from 3rd to 15th streets and Norris streets and also provides a conduit of natural gas to another stretch of natural gas mains, O’Sullivan said.
“The natural gas main is a big cup of water, and the surrounding buildings are sticking their straws in the cup of water—the straws are the service lines,” he said.
PGW serves about 2.5 million customers with approximately 6,000 miles of infrastructure running throughout Philadelphia, O’Sullivan said. About half of this network is gas mains and larger pipes which carry gas into various neighborhoods.
The other 3,000 miles are service lines, which feed directly into buildings. Half of the service lines are in need of replacement, O’Sullivan said.
These lines, like the one across from Tyler School of Art, are being replaced with plastic or upgraded steel, which are more adaptive to the city’s current needs. Plastic pipes provide a flexibility that is essential with these differences, O’Sullivan said.
“We’ve noticed that, obviously, the needs of the city and the usage of the environment have changed,” O’Sullivan said. “For instance, if you went back a generation of two ago, the streets where Temple sits would not have seen anywhere near the kind of traffic that we see the day. This change puts new pressure on the road.”
He added that gas is occasionally cut off, but when this occurs, it is usually turned back on within 24 hours.
“There is a limit to how much you can minimize disruption, simply because of the nature of the work,” O’Sullivan said. “I haven’t been made aware of any significant disruption to Temple.”
The food trucks that park along Norris Street had to temporarily move due to the construction. The Crêperie, Korea House, Burger Tank, Korean Bi Bam Bap and The Cloud were relocated to 13th Street, and were closed during the beginning of the week.
The Cloud could not open for business in their new location, because they were moved 800 feet from the electricity pole they usually use to heat their drinks and snacks.
“We were told we could be back in business by Jan. 8, and now they say it is not going to be until the 15th,” Kristen Mills, co-owner of The Cloud said. “There are people to pay, bills to pay — how can we pay it with no money coming in?”
O’Sullivan said Feb. 1 is the current end date for all of the construction work on Norris Street.
“In some cases we will physically remove old pipelines from the ground, and in others we can just retire that natural gas main from service but leave it,” O’Sullivan said. “Either way, because it’s in the ground, obviously it takes time and there is a level of disruption to the normal street.”
Lila Gordon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.