Construction in Palmer Square continues as People’s Gas upgrades its old pipes to a modern system as part of their Accelerated Main Replacement Program.
As the summer of 2012 unfolded, foot traffic around Palmer Square perhaps doubled from summer 2011. Neighbors used this 7-acre green space for barbecues, badminton, running, relaxing and more. Good times were had.
However, starting in July, small circles gathered in business casual clothes at the western end of the park and by Monday, the following week, the construction crews came rolling into town.
Was something missed? Was a letter sent in the mail? Are they building a dog park? A permanent circus? The parking restrictions said the construction’s end date was Aug. 8, which wasn’t a good sign.
People’s Gas needed to upgrade their old cast iron and ductile iron pipes to a modern polyethylene system as part of their Accelerated Main Replacement Program. The modern pipes will upgrade the low-pressure system to a medium-pressure system. People’s Gas declares that this will increase safety with fewer interruptions and repair time, as well as increase reliability with your current gas appliances and newer energy efficient appliances.
The park became loaded with heavy machinery, trench/tunnel supports and massive pipes, with fences closing off the work. Even pickup trucks found their way onto the grass.
In the first week of August, dirt trucks arrived and the end appeared near. Now what? Based on some brief interactions on Everyblock regarding similar projects in Chicago, there will be a half attempt at cleaning up and landscaping will start in the spring. There are a couple discussions on the website stating that the construction crew will fill the gaps with dirt and return one to two months later to complete the job. It’s unclear if People’s Gas needs to test the pressure of their new line system.
You may be curious who paid for this investment. Originally, the lllinois Commerce Commission granted People’s Gas the right to charge their customers for their company’s investment. People’s Gas customer service estimated that the average charge is 41 cents per month starting in 2011. However, an Illinois Appellate Court overturned this charge. Crain’s reported on Aug. 1 that People’s Gas filed a request for a rate hike that would cost the average household customer $6.50 a month. The company justified the hike by saying most of the money would go toward their main pipe replacement; People’s Gas’s parent company Integrys Energy Group reported $220.9 million in profits for 2011. The request should take the Illinois Commerce Commission 11 months for a decision. Hopefully, Palmer Square will look like its old self before then. A call and email to People’s Gas Customer Service was not returned.
LoganSquarist will look to get you an update as soon as we have one.