February 22, 2023

Replacement of Gas Lines Beginning Between Hulfish and Clay Streets

By Anne Levin

Following a brief delay, work on PSE&G’s gas modernization project in Princeton was scheduled to get underway on Tuesday evening (after press time). The project is designed to make the delivery of gas to local residences safer, cleaner, and more reliable.

The replacement of the town’s aging cast iron gas pipes with new plastic or coated steel piping was to begin with work between Hulfish Street and Clay Street. In this area, Paul Robeson Place and Wiggins Street, as well as Witherspoon Street, are to be closed to traffic from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays as the project continues.

The project will replace 12 miles of gas mains throughout Princeton. It is part of the utility’s plan to replace more than 875 miles of pipes, along with other gas infrastructure improvements, across New Jersey. Initial work has involved testing soil and digging test holes to verify existing gas pipes. Once trenches are dug, the new gas mains will be installed block by block.

Princeton’s Assistant Municipal Engineer Jim Purcell gave an update on the project at the February 13 meeting of Princeton Council. The contractor, Ferreira Construction, is doing the work during the night to reduce noise from saw-cutting and jackhammers, he said. Work will progress north on Witherspoon Street during the day if traffic can be accommodated and the work can be coordinated with the PSE&G electric utility pole replacement project that is currently underway.

Also being taken into consideration is the ongoing work on Phase 1 of the Witherspoon Street Improvement Project, involving road, curb, and sidewalk replacement. The second phase is to include underground utility upgrades, tree removal and replacement, sidewalk removal and expansion, and roadway surface removal and replacement between Green Street and Leigh Avenue.

“We hope PSE&G will complete work on Witherspoon Street and the side streets before Phase 2 work starts,” said Purcell.

The utility needs to install a temporary regulator to maintain gas pressures throughout the system, because the regulator at the corner of Witherspoon Street and Spring Street is in the way of current work on the Witherspoon Street Improvement Project and needs to be decommissioned, Purcell said. The temporary regulator is to be installed at the corner of Vandeventer Avenue and Park Place.

The municipality wants that work to be done at night, since daytime work would have a detrimental effect on traffic. “They [PSE&G] are trying to determine how to accommodate this,” Purcell said. “They did want to do it during the day. The crew — and there is only one in the Trenton region — is currently assigned to monitor the regulator at Spring Street while our Witherspoon Street Improvement Project is being constructed within 100 feet of it.”

Shifting the crew to night work means they won’t be able to monitor the Witherspoon project during the day. “So we’ve told them we will adjust our contractors’ work to stay more than 100 feet from the Spring Street regulator when they work on Vandeventer at night,” he said.

A date for that installation by PSE&G has yet to be scheduled, Purcell said Monday.