Gas Leaks Will Mean 7th Street Excavation at Eastern Market
by Larry Janezich
The Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC) heard tonight that Washington Gas will excavate much of 7th Street, SE, between Pennsylvania Avenue and North Carolina Avenue, SE, to replace gas service lines which have required numerous repairs in the past two years.
Monte Edwards, Chair of the Capital Improvements Subcommittee, reported to EMCAC that two gas lines underneath 7th Street, SE, outside Eastern Market will have to be capped and abandoned, and service to those businesses on 7th Street not already served by a newer line will have to be established.
The problem – and safety issue – came to light as the result of EMCAC’s complaint to city officials on February 11, 2011, about the frequency which Washington Gas had been repairing leaks in its gas lines outside the market, and botching the replacement of the unique differentiated colonial cobblestone pavers.
DDOT arranged a meeting on February 17th attended by Washington Gas, DDOT, Ft. Myer Construction, Market Row Merchants, EMCAC and staff from Councilmember Wells’ office.
The modern high pressure gas line under 7th Street serves the Hine site and businesses on the west side of 7th Street, SE: Marvelous Market, Montmartre, etc. A few businesses on the east side of the 200 block, opposite the Market, appear to be served from the high pressure line. According to Edwards’ report, “It is unclear whether Eastern market is receiving service from one of the old low-pressure lines or from the four inch high pressure gas line.”
It is also unclear, why Washington Gas, when required to replace, upgrade, or confirm reliability of their gas lines in 2008, did not replace all of the services in the 200 block of 7th Street, SE.
Remedying the problem will require, 1) capping and abandoning the two low pressure lines, 2) connecting services in the 200 block of 7th Street, SE, to the new high pressure line. This will require nine or more excavations along 7th Street, SE, to access the high pressure line and make the connections, which, in turn, will require excavations from the center of the street to the to each building’s line or meter location – or running a high pressure line to the property through the old connection if it is big enough.
DDOT will not authorize the work to begin until Washington Gas conducts a survey to confirm which services need to be replaced and how the replacements will be accomplished. Washington Gas will bear the cost of the replacement, which will be conducted in a way to minimize the impact on 7th Street weekend vendors. The time frame will depend on the results of the survey to determine the scope of the problem.